Everyone is just getting into new routines and sleep patterns are often tough to turn around after a couple weeks of holiday late nights and lazy mornings.
Here are some tips for helping your body get the rest it needs so your brain and body can function at their best. Most of this info is common sense and you probably have heard it all before, but take a look and ask yourself if there are any things on this list that you could tweak to enhance your sleep hygiene which will in turn enhance your learning, health and vitality. Right now, early in the term before you are overwhelmed with assignments, is a great time to work on getting well-being routines around healthy meals, exercise and sleep that will help you have a strong physical and emotional foundation for the whole term.
Also, take a look at the wonderful 4-7-8 breathing technique below that helps you to relax your nervous system. If you can integrate this relaxation method into your every day life it will help you fall asleep and deal with stressful challenges. You are essentially teaching your mind/breath/body how to slow down!
Try to Avoid:
- Taking naps, especially after 3PM. Keep to a regular schedule.
- Drinking caffeine after lunch.
- Going to bed hungry (but also avoid eating a big meal near bedtime).
- Reading, writing, working, eating, watching TV, talking on the phone, or playing cards in bed.
- Alcohol and nicotine within four hours of your bedtime.
- Try your best to have a regular bed time – your body thrives on predictability!
- Begin rituals that help you relax each night before bed. This can include activities such as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading.
- Wake up at the same approximate time each morning; even on weekends & holidays. ( I know – boring and not very realistic for students – but worth at least trying for this on weekdays!)
- Eat a few grams of protein before bed (a few almonds, or toast and peanut butter could help settle your system so its ready for shut down).
- If you’re not sleepy at bedtime, then do something else to relax your body and distract your mind. If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, then get out of bed and find something else to help you feel relaxed.
And here is Dr. Andrew Weil’s wonderful “nod-off-in-60-seconds formula.” I have personally tried this technique and find it very helpful. I wouldn’t say that it always works for me in 60 seconds, but the more I use it the more my body is primed to relax on those long out breaths and I often doze off pretty quickly after the four breath cycles.
It is worth watching the you-tube where he leads you through the process and explains how this extra oxygen works to provide you with a natural tranquilizer. This breathing technique is also helpful with any kind of anxiety as it relaxes your whole body and becomes more potent when you integrate it into life twice a day. He promises you will feel a difference after a couple of weeks of doing this quick, easy routine every day:
FALL ASLEEP IN 60 SECONDS/ Natural Tranquilizer Breathing Technique
Exhale completely through your mouth while making a ‘whoosh’ sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Now hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight second in one large breath.
Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.