Feel the rhythm
Sleep is the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle. It is also the requirement for peak productivity and academic performance. You often hear that the only thing you need to do is to go to bed earlier. Yet, things are bit more complicated than that. Some people are morning larks who greet the sun with a smile, and then there are night owls who like to study when the darkness falls.
Our energy levels go up and down during the day, and we all have different circadian rhythms. So, whatever others tell you, it is important to stay in tune with your own natural sleep-wake cycle. Sleeping the same number of hours at different times does make a difference – you need to achieve a consistent schedule, set your biological clock, and optimize your sleep quality.
On a tight schedule
For instance, sleeping in is not a good idea, even on weekends. Anything that deviates from the weekday schedule could cause jetlag-like symptoms. Whenever you want to make up for a late night, you should take a daytime nap. However, be careful with this because a nap can do more harm than good. In general, experts argue that 15-20 minutes does the trick just fine.
Naturally, you should go to bed when you feel tired. Tossing and turning never did anyone good, and a great way to sleep like a hog is to engage in physical activity during the day. On the other hand, sometimes the drowsiness needs to be kept at bay. This usually happens after dinner, when you have the urge to retreat to your bedroom, way before your regular bedtime.
Dreams and realities
As for the optimal time to wake up, it is usually eight hours after you drift away to the dreamland. Ideally, you should wake up without an alarm. If that rarely ever happens, you are probably not doing something right. Also, note that daily obligations and goings-on may prove to be a hurdle on the road to getting a good day’s sleep, like when you have loud roommates.
Furthermore, I hate to break it to you, but your drinking and eating habits also have an important role to play. Caffeine is often a culprit behind these problems, but many people do not know that it can cause trouble even twelve hours after consumption. Avoid alcohol and big meals before bed, as they may bring an upset stomach, heartburn, etc. Likewise, a lot of liquid is a disruptive influence because of frequent bathroom trips.
Finally, apart from habits and bedtime rituals, you can also take advantage of various tricks. First off, control your exposure to light. Our brain produces more of the melatonin hormone when it is light, making us more alert. This also implies that bright sunlight is a welcome guest in the morning. Purchasing a new bed or visiting an online mattress store can also be beneficial. The list of solutions does not end here, so do not despair in case the first steps do not prove to be fruitful.
A positive change
There is no other way to enhance your productivity and sleep quality than to build good habits. The chief task is to align sleeping habits with your circadian rhythm and figure out your natural sleep-wake dynamics. Assign a schedule and stick to it, which is the harder part. Only after making this effort, can you hope to feel refreshed and energized. Lifestyle adjustments are necessary to improve the quality and length of sleep, but also to climb up the academic and career ladder.
This article was contributed by guest author Lana Hawkins.