We all know that it is a good idea to get a night of quality downtime before a key exam. However, this is something that very definitely comes into the category of “easy to say, difficult to do”. I’m sure many of us have found ourselves tossing and turning, tortured by the knowledge that dawn will bring the exam that you have been dreading for months. Then just as you finally reach the blessed “land of nod” you are awoken by your alarm, (which by the way you set 30 minutes earlier than usual). Result, you have a bad start to a very important day.
Well, if that scenario rings any bells ……. Read on, I have some tips for you.
Lark or Owl?
We each have a natural body clock, some of us like to retire early and rise with the sun (larks), while others like to see in the new day before hitting the sack (owls). The key tip here is to keep to your normal pattern. If your body is adjusted to a particular time, then respect that, and call it a day when you reach that point. Now I should add at this point that I am very definitely a lark, whilst my wife is the ultimate owl. In fact so much so that I am convinced she permanently runs on “mid Atlantic time”. If this reflects your own situation, you have my sympathy.
The racing mind
When we are trying to sleep our minds are seemingly released to wander where they wish. The result can often be complete chaos with us imagining all sorts of highly unlikely situations, which in the cold light of day seem absurd. One supposed tried and tested method to overcome this is to count sheep jumping over a gate. Maybe that works for you, but many experts recommend a relaxing bath or shower a full hour before you go to bed. The thinking being that this gives a signal to the brain that it is almost time for sleep to commence.
The bedroom environment.
Being too hot or too cold is the enemy of a good night’s sleep. Scientists tell us that our core body temperature should only be half a degree less than our daytime temperature. If we are colder or hotter than this then we get restless and can kiss goodbye to the deep slumber that we crave. So make sure that you ensure your duvet is either puffed up, or flattened out to ensure the correct temperature before you go to bed. Believe me this is 30 seconds of time well invested!
Food & drink.
What and when you eat and drink before bedtime is often a big factor in determining the quality of sleep that follows. For example, we all know that caffeine is a stimulant which can stay in the body system for many hours. We all associate it with tea & coffee, and yet soft fizzy drinks are one of the most common sources of caffeine for many individuals. Contrary to popular believe drinking alcohol before bedtime does not help us to sleep well. Whilst it initially may cause us to fall asleep, if we drink too much its effect is counter-productive. The result is poor quality sleep, which leaves us feeling groggy and unrefreshed. The timing of when we eat is also a factor. A late heavy meal may mean we leave little time to digest it properly. The resulting indigestion and heartburn make lying down a misery.
So it turns out that we can all take some easy common sense steps which can significantly increase our chances of getting that elusive night of shuteye. Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you good luck with your exams. In the meantime I’m off for a snooze. Sweet dreams!
For more tips at university, check out our post: Top 6 Last Minute Exam Tips For Students.