If you’ve read any of our wellbeing articles, you would know how important it is to maintain a healthy sleep routine during your study. Not only will you wake up feeling better refreshed, but you’ll find that sleep has a whole plethora of benefits.
Does better skin, more energy, increased ability to focus and positive impacts on your mental health sound like goals? Then, this article is for you!
First, it’s important to say that you aren’t going to get it right every time. Sometimes, we just don’t get a lot of sleep in a night, and that is okay. With these tips, you’ll hopefully be able to make small changes that reap big rewards.
Keep reading to unlock the hacks for a great and healthy sleep routine!
Tip #1: Have consistent sleep and wake times
Having a regular time that you go to bed or wake up (at least within an hours’ time frame) will help your body know when it is getting close to sleep time. Slowly, you’ll train your body to know when to rest, and when to be energised.
Okay, science time: a chemical called melatonin controls our sleep patterns. At night, the levels of melatonin in your body increase, making you feel more lethargic. Put simply, going to bed at a consistent time can trigger the right amount of melatonin at the right times — your body will help you out!
This works in reverse, too! Waking up at a consistent time and exposing your body to sunlight early can trigger your brain into feeling alert and refreshed.
By doing this, you’re affirming your body’s circadian rhythm so that you have more energy throughout the day. And no, this isn’t some new-aged hippy concept — all animals, including humans, have natural circadian rhythm of how we perceive rest and wakefulness cycles.
You know when you get home from a party late, and even if you sleep 8 hours, you still feel rotten the next day? That’s a great example of throwing your circadian rhythm out of whack.
There’s plenty of articles out there telling us why we should be ‘morning people’ — that isn’t what this article is about. Your sleep-wake cycle needs to fit with your lifestyle and body. If you thrive on working until midnight and getting up at 8am, that might be the right routine for you! Just make sure you stay consistent.
Tip #2: Carve out a night routine
This goes hand-in-hand with our last point. Your body really needs a daily wind-down time so it knows that it is time to be rested and go to sleep.
Ideally, this would be an hour where you don’t eat, go on your phone or do anything super stimulating. You might read, draw, have a bath… really any quiet activity that works for you. Check out this podcast if you want advice on how to start creating healthy routines!
The benefits of a healthy sleep routine are two-fold. First, it ensures you feel rested and ready to sleep, which will help you feel more refreshed the next day. It also helps you to become disciplined, so you will stop work at a certain time and look after yourself. You’ve probably figured out by now that working all day every day isn’t very good for you!
It’s also important to make your night routine your own. There’s plenty of great resources out there suggesting how to sleep well, but if you’re not enjoying your down time, what’s the point?
HSC is a busy time and you’ll probably find yourself wanting to get certain things done each week. We would really encourage you not to do anything in the hour before bed that exposes you to lots of blue light, or makes you super stimulated.
But if your downtime involves calling a friend or listening to a podcast, so be it! A big part of sleeping well is feeling like you deserve that sleep. Really though, do you ever get a nice 8 hours with an assignment looming over your head?
Tip #3: Don’t work from your bed!
You’ve heard it before! Working from bed is a straight-up bad idea if you’re trying to maintain a healthy sleep routine. On a super practical level, you’re unlikely to get as much done in bed, which sets you up for a night of stress and less sleep. But there’s even more to it than that.
Time for another science spot: The question of whether or not to work from bed comes back to a bigger concept called ‘sleep hygiene’. If you can’t distinguish between your work and relaxation time, your brain won’t be able to either. Working from your bed, again, decreases the melatonin levels you produce before sleeping.
Working from bed also affects your work-life balance, which means you might find it harder to have down time once you finish for the day.
Tip #4: Exercise throughout the day
A good night’s sleep often depends on the events of your day. There’s plenty of studies out there that demonstrate how exercise has a big impact on sleep. One study has even suggested that moderate-vigorous exercise throughout the day might help you hit the hay 13 minutes faster!
We don’t actually understand exactly why this is the case, but scientists have a couple of good theories. One is that moderate-vigorous exercise can help to realign your internal body clock. This makes sense — serotonin (a chemical that is released when you exercise) is suggested to have effects on sleep-wake cycles.
Additionally, exercise is a stress-buster, lowering the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. It also keeps people active and can help with weight-related sleep issues, like sleep apnea.
This point is short but sweet; exercise will help you feel good throughout the day and improve your chances of a great night’s sleep.
Tip #5: Take a natural supplement
The tips in this article will (fingers crossed) improve your quality of sleep. However, the reality is that HSC is a stressful year, and sometimes you need a little help.
Natural sleep supplements are made predominantly of plants and minerals that can be found around us. You can try things like lavender drops, chamomile tea, passionflower and ginseng. Most of these can be used as rubs, drops or in humidifiers.
The great thing about natural supplements is that you’re not putting something man-made, or with lots of ingredients, into your body right before bed.
If you have a sustained sleep problem or feel like these supplements aren’t helping, you should speak to your doctor. They may be able to suggest other tips or prescribe you to something designed specifically to target sleep.
After a long day of study, nothing feels better than being able to put your head down on the pillow and fall right to sleep. We hope these tips will really help you get the best rest you can this year, even in the craziness!
Lucinda Garbutt-Young hopes to one day be writing for a big-shot newspaper… or maybe just for a friendly magazine in the arts sector. Right now, she is enjoying studying a Bachelor of Public Communication (Public Relations and Journalism) at UTS while she writes on the side. She also loves making coffees for people in her job as a barista, and loves nothing more than a sun shower.