It’s two a.m. and you’re tossing and turning in your bed. You have to get up at six to get to your 8:15 class on time (officially), which stresses you out, making it even more difficult to fall asleep. Your sweet old grandmother’s advice to drink warm milk with honey hasn’t worked. All you want is to not be tired in the morning for a change. Sound familiar? Now, ideally, you would examine your life and question every decision that has gotten you into this situation and improve all the areas that prevent you from sleeping. Exercise regularly. No Netflix binges. Stop eating unhealthy food. But what’s that you say? Ain’t nobody got time for that? You want a few tricks that will help you sleep well without actually sacrificing anything or significantly changing any aspect of your life? You’ve come to the right place.
1.5 is the magic number
This is by far the most important rule. 1.5 is the length of an average sleep cycle, so you should aim for the hours you sleep to be a multiple of 1.5 (3 hours, 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 7.5 hours and so on). Interrupting a sleep cycle is pretty much the worst thing you can do for your sleep. It will leave you tired, no matter how many hours you slept. This leads to some counter-intuitive truths – sleeping 7 hours will leave you more tired than 6 hours, because 4 x 1,5 = 6. Get the idea?
Blue light is a no-go
Fair enough, you say, but you’re having trouble even falling asleep? It might be because you’re staring at a screen all day every day. That’s right, your mother had a point when she told you to put your phone away. But relax – you don’t have to give up your Netflix binges and nightly meme-browsing on your phone. The culprit is the blue light emitting from your screen (wave-length between 400 to 495 nm). It inhibits the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you sleepy. But that can be improved pretty easily. You can filter out the blue light with the help of apps, such as f.lux for your computer or Twilight for your phone. (Warning: side effects include being asked from time to time why your screen is tinged orange-ish. Or so I’ve heard.)
Eat to sleep deep
Ok, you’ve followed all of the advice but you’re still not happy because you wake up in the middle of the night? Might be natural, in which case you should just accept it as part of your natural sleep pattern, or, what’s more likely, it might be because of your blood sugar dropping rapidly. To make sure that doesn’t happen:
DON’T: eat simple carbs in the evening, like white bread, white pasta, candy or literally anything that’s a carb and that’s white.
DO: eat complex carbs in the evening, like whole grains, beans or oatmeal. They take longer to break down and to absorb, so they will provide your body with slow and steady energy.
There you have it. If these tips don’t help you, you might want to look into slightly more extreme methods, like traveling to Tibet studying with Buddhist monks until you overcome your earthly desire for sleep or replacing all of your blood with coffee.
Author & Picture: Maria Diamantopoulou