I was a walking zombie. I could feel my lack of sleep weighing down on me almost as if I was carrying a bag of bricks. I couldn’t focus and my motivation was at an all-time low. I hadn’t been sleeping well. The stress of second-year, as well as the anxiety of my upcoming exams, was keeping me awake at night. I would go to bed only to find that I was lying awake for hours thinking about everything that was on my plate.
Lack of sleep affected mood and my ability to think. I could feel myself riding waves of emotion from anxiety to irritability and sadness. I found little motivation to study or do my assignments. I felt as though my life was spiraling down and there was no way for me to stop it.
One day, I finally decided to say enough was enough. I was going to seek professional help as this problem was negatively affecting my academic life as well as my social life. I made an appointment with my counselor and discussed my concerns with her. Coincidentally enough, she had just returned from a conference which focused on sleep and insomnia. During my meeting with her, I gained great insight on the issue I was having and some potential ways to resolve the problem. Here are some of the tips she offered me:
- Only sleep in your bed – do not study, watch TV, or play video games from bed. This primes your brain to view your bed as a place where you strictly sleep, allowing you to fall asleep easier.
- Try to avoid looking at screens at least an hour or two before bed. The artificial light suppresses melatonin levels which interferes with our ability to fall to sleep.
- Create a daily routine – regardless of your class schedule, try to maintain strict times when you go to bed and wake up. This will ensure that you get the appropriate amount of sleep.
- Limit caffeine intake or eliminate it all together – drinking caffeine too soon before bed can prevent us from becoming tired and stop us from falling asleep. Try not to drink coffee at least 4-5 hours before bedtime.