When it comes to getting a better night’s sleep, we’ve got good news and bad news.
This week’s question comes from Adam on Facebook.
“I’m always tired when I wake up. Any tips for getting a better night’s sleep?”
Katherine Lourenco, SLN’s Project Director, also studies and teaches health and wellness as a side-hustle. She replies:
Like you, sleep is a favourite pastime of mine. I get about 9 hours of sleep on most nights.
A few simple lifestyle changes can help improve the quality of your sleep, starting tonight.
The bad news? You’re not going to like any of them.
There’s nothing heroic about pulling an all-nighter or surviving on next-to-no-sleep. Sleep is incredibly important to your brain. Memory, judgement and your mood are all negatively affected by lack of sleep — not to mention your body’s ability to rest and repair, which impacts your energy levels and ability to fight off illness.
While the amount of sleep any individual needs varies, most adults in their twenties function best with 7–9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleeping is actually productive don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re welcome.
Here’s my advice for stepping up your shut-eye game.
1. Ditch the bedtime screen time.
The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, laptops and TVs disrupt your sleep/wake cycle by reducing melatonin production (that’s the hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep).
Think you can use that nifty “night-time” setting on your phone to avoid the blue light? Think again. Screen time keeps your mind active, which is the opposite of winding down for a little rest and relaxation.
2. Go easy on carbs and sugar.
Carbohydrates are not the enemy. But over-consuming carbohydrates and sugar at any time of day can throw your hormones way out of whack, which affects your quality of sleep (and other fun items like focus, mood, energy levels and acne). Yes, we often feel sleepy after a carb-heavy meal, but that’s your body working hard to digest rather than kicking into relaxation mode.
You don’t have to completely cut out refined carbs and sugar. Eating balanced meals of real food (like, vegetables — including starchy ones — protein and high quality fat) can have a profound impact on your sleep (and you know, everything).
Don’t take my word for it. Try changing up what you’re eating for a few days, and see what happens.
3. Take sleep seriously.
Repeat after me: “Sleep is not a luxury.”
Treat your sleep as a priority, and it will pay you back tenfold — in school, in your relationships, and maybe even your outlook on life. Permission to take a nap? Granted.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.