By: Omar Monsalvo
Sleep is often said to be the most important thing. It allows us to recharge and be ready for the next day. When I am exhausted, I struggle with falling asleep and finding time for things I love to do. It can be really easy to binge-watch a show late into the night, especially in the summertime when there is no school and fewer responsibilities. Whether you decide to wake up early or sleep in, your circadian rhythm will be affected. The circadian rhythm is foundational to finding the balance between day and night functions. Sleep is an important factor in maintaining academic success. Here are a few habits that I recommend trying to adapt in your life to see an improvement in sleep.
Research shows that exercising moderately can help improve sleep. Although we don’t know the specific reason, there is evidence that aerobic exercise helps with deep sleep, which allows the body to recover. Sleep also helps keep our mood and decompress the mind which are key components to falling asleep.
Personally, I try to exercise at least 5 days a week. This does not require the need to weightlift or a gym. I go on a run around my neighborhood and do at-home workouts. Although, the purchase of a pull-up bar can enhance workouts. Nothing fancy has to be done as long as the heart rate increases and sweat starts falling down your face. It is important to note that the time for exercising matters as well. Late-night runs or workouts can make it difficult to fall asleep. It is best to go in the morning or at least 2 hours before bedtime. This is because the brain releases endorphins that create activity in the brain that may keep some people awake.
It is important to maintain a healthy diet because studies show that eating junk food at night can interfere with sleep. This causes us to lose sleep, therefore, increasing food cravings.
I have personally experienced this. I would tend to buy pizza at night. I would then have a craving for sweets like cookies. I ate too many Oreos to count in one day, and the next morning I felt groggy. I also found myself craving snacks around the house such as chips or chocolate. I would find myself eating at irregular times due to being full for most of the day, and it continued that way until I would break the cycle of binge eating.
Eating well and at the right time allowed me to be more alert during the day and wake up early for my classes that were at eight in the morning. I’ve seen the benefits of eating well because I would be more engaged with my homework assignments. This led to doing better on tests in high school and college.
I have now gone over the two foundational habits to implement in your life to improve sleep. The final piece that personally helped me was an app on my phone called Alarmy. It is an alarm different from most. Once the alarm goes off, I must solve a couple of math problems, memorize a pattern, or even go on a walk in order for the alarm to shut down. I get to select how difficult I want the math problems to be, how long the pattern is that I must memorize, or the distance I must walk in order for the alarm to shut down. The point here is to make the task slightly challenging to get the brain working.
These are some of the ways I was able to improve my sleeping habits for academic success and most importantly for maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. This is what helped me so feel free to add anything else to the foundation of habits needed for a good sleep because it may differ from person to person.
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