Sleep Hygiene is defined as “habits, behaviors, and environmental factors that can be adjusted to help you have a good night's sleep.”
Sleep is paramount to our overall health & wellness. It contributes to our mental health, immune system, chronic disease risk, ability to focus, and academic performance. However, many college students don’t get enough sleep or struggle with the quality of their sleep. One of the greatest tools I discovered as a college student that has improved my quality of sleep was Sleep Hygiene. Sleep Hygiene is defined as “habits, behaviors, and environmental factors that can be adjusted to help you have a good night's sleep.” (Better Health) Here, we’re sharing tips and tricks to get your best night of rest yet.
Be consistent. Our brain uses an internal clock called a circadian rhythm to regulate sleep. By going to bed and waking up around the same time everyday, we establish regularly scheduled signals in the body that will tell us when to sleep and help put us in the right mindset. If you’re out late or throw off your sleep schedule, treat it like jet-lag and try to push through the following day on your normal routine to reset your circadian rhythm.
Create a relaxing sleep environment. Our surroundings can shape the way we feel, so it’s important to feel relaxed and comfortable in your sleeping environment. While many students are in dorms or apartments that can’t be completely customized, you can add personal touches such as cozy blankets, low-light lamps or string lights, art, and decor that makes you feel calm. I personally love this blanket because it has a fleece and sherpa side depending on your mood.
Get some sunshine. In the morning, it is important for us to increase a hormone called Cortisol to help kickstart our bodily functions. The ideal sunlight viewing is within 30-60 minutes of waking for 10-15 minutes. Do NOT stare directly at the sunlight, just in the general direction. My favorite spot to watch the sunrise is Baird Point. If you wake up before the sunrise, turn on artificial lights such as lamps or ceiling lights. Even though this practice occurs in the morning, it still contributes to sleep by helping to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Avoid technology before bed. It’s best not to view screens that emit artificial light (smart phones, tablets, televisions, computers, etc.) at least 60 minutes before bed. The artificial light from these devices mimics the effects of daylight and makes your body feel more awake. If you need to use technology, try wearing a pair of blue light glasses to minimize the effects of artificial light on your eyes. Here’s a pair of universally flattering and comfortable blue light glasses you can order through Amazon!
Exercise during the day. Exercise can help regulate our circadian rhythm, especially when you exercise earlier in the day. Luckily UB Students have access to a wide variety of fitness facilities and recreational activities including a 6,900 sq. ft. weight room with cardio deck on north campus (Alumni Arena,) as well as an indoor jogging track, swimming pool, fitness classes and intramural sports leagues. Similar offerings can be found on south campus (Clark Hall,) too!
Put together a relaxing bedtime routine. We are all creatures of habit and routines can be signals to the body that sleep is soon approaching. Some examples of activities you can incorporate into your bedtime routine are reading, drinking a cup of decaffeinated tea, journaling, stretching, meditating, and taking a warm shower.
We hope you find these sleep hygiene tips helpful. If you are struggling with sleep, UB also offers services to help you through Student Health Services.