I’ve always had trouble maintaining a regular sleep schedule. I’m not sure if you feel that your sleep cycle gets off kilter when you go out for a night and then you’re tired for the next few days. After a few more days, you feel sleep-deprived. You can’t seem to wake up at five thirty because you went to bed at two a.m. the previous night. You’re not alone.
1. Meet up For Coffee
Have someone hold you accountable to meet you for coffee or for a walk. You'll have a reason to wake up early and you won't want to miss meeting that person in the morning. Having a friend call you is a bigger motivation. Make it into a fun game where you can try to wake up before the person calls.
2. Remind yourself that you'll be happier
We’re all in a better mood and think more clearly when we get more sleep. Even studies show that college students experience more positive moods and are more extraverted when they get better sleep. Focus on the benefits of getting to bed an hour earlier. If the motivation is coming from within, we are more likely to follow through with the desired behavior.
3. Find a nightly routine
An hour before bed, create a bedtime ritual. Whether that means turning off the lights and getting out your favorite book (on Kindle or in tangible form), do something relaxing on a nightly basis. When you start to do this activity, your body will associate bedtime with this activity.
4. Watch your caffeine intake
I’m definitely guilty of this. We all need our caffeine. If you need your daily cup of coffee, see if you can stop drinking coffee by 3pm. This way, your body has time to rid of the effects of coffee before you go to sleep. Studies show that coffee intake six hours prior to sleep can disrupt sleep quality.
5. Invest in a bedtime tea
Sometimes I think that it’s the act of drinking tea that is calming. In the case that we're trying to get better sleep, avoid caffeine-based teas before bed. Herbal teas including valerian root, chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm can reduce stress and anxiety.
Amsterdam, J.D., Li, Y., Soeller, I., Rockwell, K., Mao, J.J., & Shults, J. (2009). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 29(4): 378-82.
Drake, C., Roehrs, T. Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 9(11): 1195-1200.
Gray, E.K. & Watson, D. (2002). General and specific traits of personality and their relation to sleep and academic performance. Journal of Personality, 70(2): 177-206.
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