Did you know…that in Spanish, there’s a word for “to go to bed” (acostarse) and another word for “to fall asleep” (dormirse). This makes perfect sense given that it might take a minute to fall asleep after going to bed: what about the math test next Monday? Or is it going to be on Wednesday now? Next Friday? Sometimes, the harder you try to fall asleep, the more awake you become. But don’t worry, because there are research-based tips to refer to if you’re having trouble falling asleep. Here’s a list of the very helpful ones:
Get out of bed
“The problem with staying in bed for any appreciable amount of time is that this reinforces sleeplessness, physiologically and psychologically,” says Michael Perlis, PhD, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania (WebMD). Not only does it increase your level of anxiety, but it also “conditions” you, so to speak, to be awake in bed. To solve this problem, all you need to do is to let your brain associate bed with sleep. Therefore, although it might seem a bit counterintuitive at first, sleep experts advise that you get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep in about 20 minutes.
Read a physics textbook
Kidding! Any book works, as long as it’s a paper book. Electronic books might interfere with your circadian rhythm because certain devices emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin and makes it harder to fall asleep (Harvard Health).
Other relaxing activities like listening to music (that aren’t hype songs), meditating, or stretching would also help you get back to sleep faster. The point is that busying yourself with such activities lowers your level of anxiety. That way, your brain doesn’t think you’re desperate to fall asleep. Besides, you can get ahead on your physics reading, making time to sleep during the day when you’re in class.
Go back to bed
When you start to feel drowsy two pages into the chapter, go back to bed and keep thinking about whatever equation or diagram you read. For the best results, use a book that’s moderately above your level of knowledge.
In a slightly more long-term sense, here’s a list of activities to avoid doing right before bed:
- Screen time
- Exercise that’s not yoga or stretching
- Eating or drinking too much water
- Too much nap time during the day
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Caffeine if it’s a stimulant for you
Hope this article helps! As always, seek professional medical help when needed.