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Ultimate Guide to Sleeping Better and Waking Up Easier

There is one thing that students wrestle with continually over their four years at university. It’s a slow, drawn out, down-hill struggle: sleep. We are always seeking more or better sleep, and ways to wake up in the morning without feeling like we’ve been hit with a truck. We’ve written a couple of times on the subject of sleep at Gearfire. We’ll it’s time to sum it all up into a go-to reference guide for students. A lot of people use coffee to help theme wake up in the morning, but caffeine is not a replacement for good sleeping habits. Use these tips to fall asleep easier, sleep  better, and wake up feeling great!

Fall Asleep Quicker

Avoid Physical Activity & Eating 4 Hours Before Bed


After exercising or engaging in heavy physical activity, your body’s resting heart rate is increased for up to 6 hours after you stop activity. While this makes you feel great after exercising, it prevents the slowing of your heart rate and cooling of your body that facilitates sleep. Eating causes a similar effect. Immediately after eating your body begins working to digest the food, which is great and all, but it conflicts with the slowdown of bodily functions as you enter sleep.

If you have tried the aforementioned tips and are still having trouble falling asleep, then you should consider some natural organic tea made with Valerian Root. This root is known to help out a number of medical issues, including insomnia. It also helps with anxiety, headaches, migraines, and cramps. This tea is completely natural, so there are no side effects or risks to worry about, meaning there is absolutely no harm in giving it a try for a few nights. If anything, it is a healthier alternative to pharmaceutical sleeping pills.

Know When to Go to Bed


You should never spend more than 15 minutes trying to go to sleep. If you are lying in bed awake after 15 minutes, your body is not ready for sleep. You should get out of bed and do a light, restful activity such as reading until you are sleepy.

Your Bed is Used for Two Things…

… and sleep is one of them. Avoid reading in bed for long periods of time, studying, or using your computer while in bed. If you train yourself to consider the bed a place of rest, you will have an easier time falling asleep.

Prepare Things the Night Before


If you’re like me, you’re not a morning person, and that means that you do not function very well in the morning. It may take a couple hours for your mind and body to wake up fully. Try to do things the night before that you would otherwise do in the morning, such as preparing lunch, packing up your bag,  or getting things together. When I have to wake up especially early I pack everything ready-to-go by the door, with my laptop in my back but also plugged in, charging over night. 10 minutes of preparation can save you 20 minutes of stumbling around half-awake in the morning. Not only will it save time, but your mind will rest easy knowing that it has nothing to worry about.

Empty Your Mind on Paper

If you have something on your mind, specifically things to remember, it can be very difficult to fall asleep. For this reason I always keep a pad of paper and a pen in my drawer, so that if I think of something I need to do in the morning just before I fall asleep, I can jot it down without getting out of bed.

Getting a Better Sleep

Ensure a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Make sure that your sleep is not disturbed by an increase in temperature, noise, or light during the night. That means turn off your phone, or at least put it on silent with the screen down. Vibrate can be surprisingly loud in a silent room, and receiving a text can light up the entire room.  Blinders and earplugs are great if your roommate is waking up at 3 AM one morning to fly home or something like that, but if you use them routinely you will become accustomed to them and it will be very difficult to sleep without them.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep!

College students generally required 8-10 hours of good sleep per night to function optimally. Unfortunately, you cannot run a sleep deficit during the week and make up for it on the weekend. Your body can make up for only 1 hour of lost sleep by sleeping more the next night.

Lack of Sleep Deteriorates Mind Performance

After an entire week of 6-hour nights, not only will you feel groggy, but your mental capacity will be functioning as if you had been awake for 24 hours. Statistics show that after 18 hours awake, your physical and mental impairment while driving is equal to being just above the legal limit. By depriving yourself of sleep, you are effectively attending class drunk.

Wake Up Easily

Develop your Body’s Internal Clock


If you’re like me, you reflect nostalgically on your elementary school days, where you woke up at the same time every day for school for four years. You even woke up early on Saturday to watch Saturday morning cartoons! You may remember how well-trained your body’s internal clock was.  woke up at exactly 6:59 (Just before my alarm went off) and fell asleep at 10:40, like clockwork (pun intended).

If you force yourself to wake at roughly the same time each day, your body will begin to calibrate itself to that wakeup time, and your tiredness levels at night will adjust accordingly. This is an important thing to keep in mind when arranging your class schedule. Starting Tuesday at 12pm might sound great on paper, but if your waking up at 9am Monday and Wednesday, you might as well be consistent, your morning self will thank you.

Replicate Natural Waking Conditions

Your body naturally responds to environmental stimuli to determine when it should wake you up. Temperature, sound, and light all factor in here. Because your body temperature declines at night, reaching it’s lowest point at 4:00 AM, and then rises again before you wake up. If you have a programmable thermostat, lowering the temperature near bed-time and overnight will give you a deeper, easier sleep, and raising it before you wake up will help your body naturally wake up. Your body responds similarly to light.

Sound is a little different. Your body doesn’t respond in a specific manner to sound, however you can use a slowly increasing volume alarm tone to gently nudge you out of sleep. I used the free audio-editing software Audacity to create a rising-volume track of bird songs, followed by an alarm tone near the end. I’ve never actually used the alarm tone, because a minute of loudening bird noises will wake almost anyone up.

Avoid All-Nighters at All Costs

Ah, the all-nighter. Simultaneously loved by students as a last minute quick fix for their bad studying habits, and hated for their devastating recovery period. An all-nighter completely wipes your body’s internal clock, which can be a good thing at times, but generally it is not. In fact it is common practice to pull an all-nighter to fight jetlag when between time zones. However travelers often set aside a day or so to rest and adjust, but as a student you’ll be right back in class the next day.

Position your Alarm Clock Outside of Arm’s Reach

A problem much more common than sleeping through your alarm is turning it off before you’re fully awake. If your alarm is always in the same place, you are conditioning yourself to turn it off. Eventually, when you hear the distinct sound of your alarm, your body will turn it off using muscle memory without you even being conscious. You can prevent this by moving your alarm clock out of arms reach, putting it in slightly different places each night, or by having one that is difficult to turn off. All of the above will require you to be more awake to disable your alarm. You could even try some of those novelty alarm clocks such as Clocky, the alarm clock that runs away from you.

What do you guys think? Share your sleephacks in the comments!