Those long wonderful hours spent in bed sleeping over the holidays seem like a distant memory now! Coming back to a full-time work schedule, social demands, chores, etc… can make getting a full, quality night’s sleep a big challenge. As our schedules rapidly fill up, sleep is often one of the first things to go. However, getting a quality night’s sleep is essential for your overall health and wellness. At SFU, 46% of students reported that they never sleep well enough to feel rested, only 11% reported sleeping well enough to feel rested most days (3-5 days per week), and over 30% of students reported sleep as one of the top three impediments to academic success (NCHA, 2007). Not only does lack of sleep impact on your work performance, it affects your moods, relationships, and compromises your ability to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Transitioning from an erratic student schedule to a fulltime work schedule has required me to rethink and readjust my sleep patterns in order to ensure I am on my ‘A-game’ every day at work! The days of pulling all nighters and getting by (not optimally might I add) on 2-3 hours sleep are over! Getting enough sleep is essential to ensure you can keep up with the demands of a fulltime work schedule and put forth your best performance.
So, how much is enough?
Take the sleep test – next time you’re sitting quietly and trying to pay attention to something – like reading a never-ending list of emails, or sitting through a long meeting - do you feel drowsy? If you do, this means you’re NOT getting enough sleep. When you can stay alert during quieter tasks, this is the optimum amount of sleep for you.
Tips to Help Ensure a Quality Night's Sleep
Here are some tips to get through the night problem free and ensure you are on top of your game each and every day at work.
Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours prior to bedtime, and avoid alcohol 2 hours before bed. It’s a myth that alcohol helps you sleep, it actually reduces sleep quality – so think twice before downing that extra drink before bed!
Who doesn’t love a good nap? However, napping for too long can actually make you more tired. Avoid napping if possible, but if you need to, keep it less than one hour and do it before 2:00-3:00pm.
Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule across the entire week (including weekends). Being on a consistent fulltime work schedule should make this a little easier, but don’t let up on weekends, it will make the transition back on Monday even harder!
Yet another reason exercise is good for you! Exercising regularly is a great way to promote a quality night’s sleep, but if possible avoid doing so within 2 hours of bedtime.
You know that growl your stomach makes when you’re hungry, don’t ignore it! Going to bed hungry may interfere with your quality of sleep. So next time you feel a rumble before bed, try a light carbohydrate snack such as crackers, cereal, toast, or oatmeal to ensure you don’t wake up in the middle of the night famished! Click here for more information onhealthy eating.
I know it’s comfy, but your bed is not meant for everything! ONLY use your bed for sleep and sex, and ONLY lie down when you are tired. Avoid using your bed for things that may make you anxious such as studying, work, emailing, etc…
Ways to unwind before bed
Ever feel like you just can’t shut your mind down when trying to fall asleep? Try listening to soft music, taking a hot bath, read a non-school/work related book, or finding your own relaxation program.
Still Having Trouble Sleeping?
Here are a few additional tips if you have trouble falling asleep. Try getting out of bed and going to another room, when you feel tired, go back to bed. Keep a notebook next to your bed to rid your brain of lingering thoughts from the day. Avoid turning on big lights, computers, TV’s, and/or working. If you are still having trouble, feel free to contact Health and Counselling Services to make an appointment to speak with a professional.