S.L.E.E.P.

Stress. Level. Elimination. Execution. Plan.

Sleep. We all crave it. We all do it. We all want it. Why can it be so hard to have sometimes? Sleep is so important to us. Lack of sleep can lead to obesity, heart disease, hormonal imbalances, decreases in mental health, and more. To honor your body and squeeze every last drop of potential out of yourself, you have to sleep. You are designed to work and rest, and Americans in 2020 need to work on the resting part of their day.

There are many factors in our modern lifestyles that can negatively affect our sleep. A few are outlined below.

Light

Light can impact sleep in two ways: it can make it harder to fall asleep, and it can alter our circadian rhythm. Blue light is especially noted for interrupting deep sleep. How can this be avoided in today’s society when everything is on a screen? Shift your phone and computers to night mode. Consider downloading a software for your computer life f.lux to shift your screen to red tones in the evening. Wear blue light glasses when looking at screens. Turn off electronics an hour before bed. To make your room darker, invest in blackout curtains to block light from the windows. Cover lights on plugs or devices with duct tape. Put a sheet or towel under your door if there’s light coming through.

Caffeine

Caffeine, caffeine. The best friend of a sleep-deprived college student… or is it? While it is true that caffeine can help pull through on a hard day after little sleep, drinking caffeine in the afternoon can alter your sleep. Even if it is hours later, caffeine can still disrupt a circadian rhythm. Make sure that you keep your caffeine habits in check by only consuming it in the morning hours. Pro tip— for those that are extremely sensitive to caffeine, avoid chocolate in the evening as well. Chocolate naturally has caffeine and can stimulate you before bed.

Alcohol

While it’s true that a drink in the evening might help you fall asleep faster, the quality of your sleep can be negatively impacted. Alcohol can cause frequent awakenings in the middle of the night as it is metabolized. It can also make sleep apnea worse.

Anxiety

Anxiety is real. The catch 22 is that lack of sleep can increase its symptoms, and the symptoms can cause poor sleep. Consider prayer, meditation, journaling, and/or belly breathing in bed to release anxiety and receive restful sleep. To practice belly breathing, place one hand on your belly and one on our chest. Breathe in deeply, with the goal of the hand on the belly to raise much higher than the hand on your chest. Try and perform 10 breaths.

Feeling overwhelmed? Try just eliminating two of these. If that is not helping, move on to eliminating all four. Talk to your doctor if you still can’t sleep and think there is a deeper issue going on.

Sweet dreams, Tigers :).