As college students, we don’t always have the best sleep habits. It’s easy to stay up too late playing on our phones or watching shows, or to drink too much caffeine during the day. And then there are times when our sleep habits just go out the door, like when we stay up late studying or pull an all-nighter.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try using your five senses to improve your sleep environment.
Are your sheets scratchy, or is your bed too firm? Do you feel comfortable when you’re all tucked in or are there little things that annoy you? Touch is really important. The key is to find the right pillow, mattress and sheets for you. If you prefer a soft bed, you can turn a firmer mattress into a softer one with a cloud top or memory foam pad.
Another factor to keep in mind is the temperature of the room. Most people find that 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature for sleep.
Lights and electronics can trick your brain into thinking you should be awake – even when it’s well past your bedtime. It’s best to stop using phones and other electronic devices about an hour before bedtime.
If you can’t put away your phone or tablet before bed, try using a blue light blocking filter. If you need to have lights on for reading or studying, try putting the source of light behind you.
What you eat or drink before bed can affect your sleep. For example, alcohol, chocolate and tomato-based foods can keep you awake. On the other hand, foods like almonds, honey, cherries and bananas have been linked to improving sleep.
The key is to pay attention and learn what works for you. For example, try setting a cutoff time for caffeine and see if it helps you sleep.
Have you ever tried to sleep with a stuffy nose? How about allergies? Trouble breathing can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try cleaning your space. Dust and other allergens can pollute the air and make normal breathing difficult. Washing your sheets and dusting regularly helps improve the air quality in your bedroom.
Want more? Try using aromatherapy. While researchers are still working to conclusively determine if lavender helps with insomnia, many people find it soothing and helpful for falling asleep.
Noise can help or hurt your ability to fall and stay asleep. Some people prefer to fall asleep to white noise from a television or fan. If you prefer background noise, be sure the volume is at a low level and turns off after a set time.
If you’re someone who prefers complete silence you might purchase a pair of earplugs. Earplugs are an easy and inexpensive way to drown out noise, like loud roommates or neighbors.