Like most people, I struggle to get a good amount of sleep every night, and have for as long as I can remember. But I’ve learned a few tricks over the years, and, in honor of midterms approaching and sleep becoming even more important (and elusive) for all of us, I’d like to share them with you.
Try a blue-light filter.
Most electronics let off a blue light that can mess with your brain and trick it into thinking it’s daytime, which is why the age-old wisdom is to turn off all devices at least an hour or so before bed. I know very few people (and even fewer university students) who actually do this, so using a blue light filter is the next best option. The filter will tint the screen of your computer or phone more yellow, so that the light doesn’t affect your circadian rhythm as much and thus doesn’t keep you up. I also find that using it cuts down on eye-strain when I’m doing late-night work.
For Macs and PCs, you can download the f.lux software, which I personally use, and I believe both iPhones and Android phones have built-in ‘night’ modes.
Turn off overhead lights.
Bright lights can also trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so shutting off overhead lights and instead opting for desk or bedside lamps (even those aesthetic string lights, if that’s what you like) an hour or so before you go to bed can help ease your brain into “sleep” mode. I found this trick particularly helpful when I was living in residence, since the overhead lights in dorms can be incredibly bright.
Invest in a good pair of earplugs.
Another thing that really helped me when I lived in residence was earplugs. Living with other people (especially if you’re in a dorm) can be pretty noisy, and it can be hard to get any good sleep with all the distractions around you. Earplugs can help with that, especially if you like taking mid-day naps. I personally use the foam ones you can get at any drugstore, but you can use whatever works best for you.
Leave your phone at the end of the bed.
If it’s in reach, you’re more likely to pick it up when you get into bed, or when you wake up in the middle of the night. By placing your phone at the end of your bed, it’s still fairly accessible, but you won’t be as tempted to grab it out of boredom or habit. It’s also probably a good idea to try putting your phone in sleep mode during the night, if you haven’t already.
Listen to something soothing.
Listening to something soothing can help lull your brain to sleep. It can be a podcast, white noise, ASMR videos, a meditation track—whatever works for you. I personally listen to the Sleep With Me podcast (iTunes / SoundCloud) when I can’t sleep, and it almost always does the trick.
Write down your thoughts.
Most of the time, my brain is what keeps me up. I’ve found that writing down all those errant thoughts works well to settle a busy mind, even if it’s just a point-form list of what you have to do the next day.