How do we know if we are getting a good enough night’s sleep? Day-to-day, are you your happiest, most capable self? With the end of strikes resulting in a the return of 9am lectures, we are now once more confronted with the prospect of not getting enough sleep each night. With study commitments and exams just around the corner, there are many excuses for sleep deprivation.
Judith Owens, the director of the Centre for Paediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, reckons that teenagers need at least nine and a half hours of sleep while adults need about eight. Maria Konnikova, writer for The New Yorker, suggests that lack of sleep can produce the effect of a constant jet lag throughout the day, where “executive function and emotional responses get worse, hurting everything from judgment to emotional reactivity.”
American physician Charles Czeisler found that “we are only aware of the impact of sleep loss on our performance for the first one to two days. After that, we no longer realize that we’re not functioning at our best. Then, it’s just the new you.”
As a Masters student myself, the looming deadlines for job applications push me to work later into the night. The amount of times a course mate has told me they fall asleep at four in the morning is staggering, especially since they often tell me this at an 11am class!
So what techniques can we night owls use to get a better night’s sleep? Here are some suggestions that might help:
- It’s important to allow your internal body clock to enter into a set routine. The NHS website has a list of methods used to battle insomnia, which include ways of allowing your body to ‘wind down’ before bed. Ways of ‘winding down’ could be a warm bath in order to help your body reach the temperature perfect for rest.
- Also, writing “to do” lists for the next day can help organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions. Additionally, relaxation exercises such as light yoga stretches help to relax the muscles. But don’t worry; you don’t have to exercise too strenuously, as this will have the opposite effect.
- Also, keeping a sleep diary is a good way of recording any lifestyle habits or activities that could contribute to your lack of an adequate sleep.
- Podcasts on YouTube also provide great tips; subscribe to ‘Life Noggin,’ which has instructional and fun videos such as ‘Why is it so hard to fall asleep?’
In worrying over our studies, our job prospects and our social lives, we forget to allow adequate time for a fundamental part of our daily lives. A good night’s sleep allows us to function as the best version of ourselves, and we could all do with making it more of a priority in our everyday life.
Image: (Stocksnap) via (pixabay)