Zzzzz… it’s not just the sound of your phone on vibrate.
This is considered a pretty boring topic, but could add years to your life (ok, maybe not years, but at least a few more months worth of Netflix). You probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Only 15% of teens actually clock in a decent 8.5 hours a night. From overbooked schedules to midterm anxiety, late night texts and social obligations, you’re probably only taking in an average of 6.5 hours a night, when in reality you need anywhere from 8 to 10 hours just to function without dribbling that third cup of coffee down your shirt.
Your parents might complain that all you do is sleep on the weekends, but it’s actually necessary to take in more sleep on the weekends if you find yourself skimping on shut-eye during the week. Unfortunately, your parents are also kind of right, too – your body craves equilibrium, and keeping irregular sleep patterns disturbs the quality of sleep you do end up getting.
Bottom line: Lack of sleep can cause academic problems, compromise your health, lead to weight gain, cause acne, and make you an irritable person to be around. Here are a few tips to work into your daily routine that might help you to close your eyes – and actually mean it.
- Airplane mode your phone after 9pm. Let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to do this. But don’t say nobody ever suggested it to you. Plus, isn’t it more fun to wake up to a bunch of texts and Facebook messages all at once? Digital Christmas. You’ll feel so popular.
- Limit screen-time and read a classic or book of poetry- in hardcover- as the last thing you do before closing your eyes. Does that sounds boring? Perfect. Sleep well.
- Use a white noise app or machine to drown out small, distracting sounds. The app works on airplane mode! And you’ll think you’re in Cabo if you use the crashing waves sound.
- Nix caffeine and sugar after 7pm. Go caffeine and sugar free if you grab a snack, or even try eliminating snacks altogether after dinner. (Sometimes hunger is just a false cue for dehydration, anyway- try a cup of warm water with lemon or decaf tea before bed.)
- Fit some form of activity in daily (but not too close to bedtime). Walking, playing soccer, working out are all natural ways to push your body into feeling energized during the day and knowing when to rejuvenate after hours. Working out too close to bedtime can trick your internal clock into thinking it’s daytime, however.
- Send a goodnight text to the likely culprits who might try text you after hours. “Good night..don’t reply to this, I know you love me too.” Hopefully your friends (or your mom) will get the hint. You can also convey this via emoji – come up with a sweet “don’t text me, bro” emoji-code for each friend, like a slice of pizza and a drooling Zzzz monkey.
- Stick to a routine. Finish your work, wash your face, clean your room, get your clothes ready for the next morning, have a consistent bedtime, and try to do it in the same order each night. Rituals are boring, boredom is a fantastic sedative.
- Practice a 10 minute breathing exercise or simple yoga meditation before turning in. Zone out. Limit screen time, ignore the stresses of life, and focus on a spot on the ceiling or wall. Breath deeply and let yourself think about absolutely nothing for a few moments before bed. You can also try these visualizations.
- Make your bed just for sleeping. It’s definitely comfortable to do your homework in bed (maybe too comfortable), but try to do your work or have a snack elsewhere. Little associations like work, stress, and Netflix in bed can carry over into your fade-zone. And crumbs in your bed are the worst.
- Try to “make peace” with anyone you may have an issue with before bedtime. A big reason people have trouble falling asleep is because of regret, stress, arguments with a friend, etc. Go ahead and send that e-mail to your teacher asking for an extension, call your mom to say you love her, give someone a compliment, help someone out when you can. A clean conscience can be the best sleep aid.
Goodnight! (don’t text back.)