Every day I used to wake up wishing I could stay in bed for just a few more minutes, but I was always aware that it wasn't a possibility because I had to get to class. I had created a vicious cycle of going to bed much too late so that the next day I'd walk around like a zombie all day long with layers of bags under my eyes. It was something I had become so used to that I hadn't bothered looking into changing my routine.
After one night when I was extremely ill and took a NyQuil to allow myself to fall asleep, I realized the importance of a suitable amount of sleep holds in a person's life. That night, I was able to get 14 hours of sleep and felt completely replenished and rejuvenated the next day. Although 14 hours is excessive and not possible on most days given my busy schedule, I made a vow to myself to increase the number of hours I slept to around the doctor's recommended amount, nine.
At first, it was extremely hard because I possessed the misconception that if I kept up my old habits, I'd magically be able to get more sleep. It wasn't until I realized that I had to reform my routine and establish these seven tendencies if I wanted to acquire a desirable amount of sleep every night.
1. Tell your phone you need a break
I know many of us feel separation anxiety when we're away from our phones for an extended period of time, but it really is better to keep it in a separate room when you go to sleep. I hate to break it to you, but Instagram and Snapchat can wait until the morning. YOU NEED SLEEP!
I don't know how accurate it is when researchers claim that it's the rays from your phone that disturb your sleep, but there's one thing I know for certain: keeping it by your bed at night will minimize the amount of sleep you get.
The biggest reason I say to part ways with your phone at night is that it's SO DISTRACTING. I'll hear the slightest noise and figure it's my phone buzzing and then I'll need to check if I got a notification. Even if nobody texted me, I'll check every form of social media to see what everyone's up to. Suddenly I'll be cyberstalking my friend's cousin's sister's mom until four in the morning. It's better to have the phone nowhere in sight so you don't even think about checking it.
2. Leave the light for the day time
I always thought that the best method to fall asleep was to allow myself to watch television until I became drowsy and eventually dozed off. That plan would constantly backfire and I'd stay up for hours watching cooking shows until I finally discovered the chef that came out victorious.
I realized that the biggest issue was the light that the television provided. When I began getting tired and would close my eyes in hopes of falling asleep, the light of the television woke me right back up and was practically begging me to watch it.
This goes for night lights, as well. I grew up afraid of the dark like many others, so I'd attempt to sleep with a dim light by my bed. It wasn't until I grew older that I realized how distracting it was. Since I still don't enjoy being alone in the dark, I developed a plan to keep a night light on until I'm feeling pretty tired and then turn it off and try to go to sleep right away so I wouldn't even realize I was in the pitch dark.
3. Just because your friends are up doesn't mean you have to be
In high school, my friends would always want to FaceTime until all hours of the night or text about our late night thoughts. I always felt bad or lame to say I was going to sleep when I was aware that they'd be up for many more hours.
This issue grew even larger as I entered college and my friends could physically be with me all night long. Whether it's attending a party until 3 AM or just fooling around in the dorm, many college kids don't get enough sleep because they're busy socializing.
Having a social life is extremely important, but it doesn't need to occur past a certain time. I learned that taking care of my body was more important than watching a movie with friends until five in the morning and eventually grew the courage to tell my friends I was going to sleep early.
4. No matter how hard it is, don't procrastinate
Like everyone else, I love to save things until the last minute simply because I'm too invested in a Netflix show or literally anything else that doesn't include the thing I really need to do. Whether it's a chore, shopping for presents, or schoolwork, I would always wait until the very last second. Eventually, the due date would come around and then I'd be stuck doing whatever it is I had to do into all hours of the night.
There's such a simple solution to this: time management. Use any downtime to get things done in advance so that you don't need to pull an all-nighter the night before it's due.
5. No matter how hungry you are, it can wait until the morning
My family and I have always been ones to eat dinner pretty early so that when it became time to sleep, I felt like I needed to snack on something. This added usually an hour or more to my bedtime because it took time to choose and prepare and then one snack would lead to another.
Eating would also energize me because it forced me to get out of bed. Doing so made me realize that I had other tasks to do while I was up that I might as well do then because it seemed like I didn't have anything better to do... who cares about sleep?
I eventually told myself that if I fell asleep, I'd completely forget about my grumbling stomach and could satisfy it when I woke up. Doing so led to a tremendous difference in when I would go to sleep.
6. Napping: don't do it
There's nothing wrong with the occasional 20-minute nap, but for most of us, that short time will become four or five hours. Sleeping throughout the day seems like such a good idea at the moment, but when it comes time to fall asleep, it's impossible. Your body has become completely energized from the nap and it takes what feels like forever to fall asleep at night.
Taking a nap during the day creates a cycle where you go to bed extremely late, wake up exhausted, take a nap, and repeat. It's so much better to go to sleep early and feel great throughout the day until it's an appropriate time to go back to sleep.