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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Use all 5 senses for better sleep

Use all 5 senses for better sleep

As college students, we don’t always have the best sleep habits. It’s easy to stay up too late playing on our phones or watching shows, or to drink too much caffeine during the day. And then there are times when our sleep habits just go out the door, like when we stay up late studying or pull an all-nighter.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try using your five senses to improve your sleep environment.

Touch

Are your sheets scratchy, or is your bed too firm? Do you feel comfortable when you’re all tucked in or are there little things that annoy you? Touch is really important. The key is to find the right pillow, mattress and sheets for you. If you prefer a soft bed, you can turn a firmer mattress into a softer one with a cloud top or memory foam pad.

Another factor to keep in mind is the temperature of the room. Most people find that 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature for sleep.

Sight

Lights and electronics can trick your brain into thinking you should be awake – even when it’s well past your bedtime. It’s best to stop using phones and other electronic devices about an hour before bedtime.

If you can’t put away your phone or tablet before bed, try using a blue light blocking filter. If you need to have lights on for reading or studying, try putting the source of light behind you.

Taste

What you eat or drink before bed can affect your sleep. For example, alcohol, chocolate and tomato-based foods can keep you awake. On the other hand, foods like almonds, honey, cherries and bananas have been linked to improving sleep.

The key is to pay attention and learn what works for you. For example, try setting a cutoff time for caffeine and see if it helps you sleep.

Smell

Have you ever tried to sleep with a stuffy nose? How about allergies? Trouble breathing can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try cleaning your space. Dust and other allergens can pollute the air and make normal breathing difficult. Washing your sheets and dusting regularly helps improve the air quality in your bedroom.

Want more? Try using aromatherapy. While researchers are still working to conclusively determine if lavender helps with insomnia, many people find it soothing and helpful for falling asleep.

Hearing

Noise can help or hurt your ability to fall and stay asleep. Some people prefer to fall asleep to white noise from a television or fan. If you prefer background noise, be sure the volume is at a low level and turns off after a set time.

If you’re someone who prefers complete silence you might purchase a pair of earplugs. Earplugs are an easy and inexpensive way to drown out noise, like loud roommates or neighbors.

7 ways to improve your sleep

7 ways to improve your sleep

College students are constantly busy. In order to keep up with the demands of being in college, students will often sacrifice their sleep.  While this might seem like a good idea at the time, losing sleep can impact your academic performance and increase your stress levels.

We know Cougs aren’t getting enough sleep. According to our 2016 National College Health Assessment data, about 60 percent of WSU students say they feel tired, dragged out or sleepy for more than three days out of the week.

Sleep is incredibly important. After all, sleeping is how our body recharges and prepares for busy, stressful days ahead. College students need about 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

If you find yourself feeling tired or sleepy throughout the week, try some of our expert tips for improving your sleep.

  1. If you choose to take a nap, be sure to nap earlier in the day and keep it to 45 minutes or less. Taking short naps early in the day has less of an impact on your nighttime sleep.
  2. If you can control the temperature in your bedroom, the best temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Avoid looking at your phone when you’re trying to fall asleep. Your mind stays active while looking through social media feeds and you can get stuck in the infinite scroll. And before you know it, you’re still on Facebook hours later.
  4. Set a cut off time for all electronic devices. This allows your brain to unwind before bed. Having a set time will also prevent you from binge watching Netflix till 3:00 am.
  5. Make a schedule. Going to bed and waking up roughly at the same time will reinforce your body’s natural sleep cycle. You’ll start to feel tired around the same time each night, and naturally wake up around the same time every morning.
  6. Only use your bed for sleeping. Avoid eating, doing homework or just hanging out in bed. If you reserve your bed only for sleeping, when you do lie down, your body will know that it’s time for bed.
  7. Avoid bringing stressors to bed. If there is a lot on your mind, try jotting down all of your thoughts right before bed to help put your mind at ease.

Following these tips can increase your sleep quality and help you feel more awake and ready to take on the day.  If you want more information on sleep, check out the National Sleep Foundation.