sleep

6 Quick Energy Boosts When Sleep Isn’t Practical

The words ‘student’ and ‘sleep’ don’t mix well.

Too much when you shouldn’t be getting sleep and too little when you should. A recipe for disaster that’s easy to fall into.

Regular bedtime is difficult to commit to with so much going on. Even when you sleep like a baby every single night, that doesn’t always stop the tiredness setting in halfway through the day.

Fear not. There are a number of things you can do to spruce up your mental and physical energy before you pack in a full night of buh-byes.

Sleeping (photo by RelaxingMusic) CC BY-SA 2.0

Sleeping (photo by RelaxingMusic) CC BY-SA 2.0

Here are 6 ways to get yourself a power up:

1. Powernap

I love powernaps. It’s like sleep, only quicker. Somewhere between 12 and 30 minutes having a short kip, leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated. Win!

The most effective powernaps take a bit of practice. For some, it’s best to get back up after no more than 12 minutes. For others, you may need half an hour. If one thing doesn’t work, keep testing times until you find what works for you. The mistake is only trying one length of time and giving up when it doesn’t work. My optimum powernap is 18 minutes. What’s yours?

2. Meditate

Relaxation has never been so energising…

Meditation is often mistaken for requiring a total lack of thoughts. In reality, your brain doesn’t switch off. Any thoughts you have should be allowed to move on.

With that in mind, you’re not getting meditation wrong. Just sit in a calm and comfortable place, feel your breathing gently in and out, and gently focus on different areas of your body from head to toe, relaxing each area as you breathe. Don’t worry about what happens as you sit there. When you notice your mind wander, give yourself permission to let go of those thoughts. Accept their existence and do not dwell on them. Stay focused on the peace and quiet for however long you wish. From a few moments to a few hours to a few days. You don’t need to keep pushing for longer rituals. One of my most refreshing meditations this month came in at two minutes.

3. Walk / Jog

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous and it doesn’t always require a gym. Walking for a mile or two is enough to clear your mind of a lot of stress and it can also help energise you for the rest of the day. My favourite time to walk is in the morning, but any time is good.

4. Change of Scene

Have you ever had that feeling when you’re tired in one place, but you suddenly feel wide awake when you go somewhere else? Find a new seat, a different location, or a different environment and watch your mood lift with no further effort required. I’m still surprised at how effective this can be.

5. Take a deliberate break

No matter how much you tell yourself to keep sitting there until you complete that task, it’s not going to finish any quicker. Leave it alone and do something else. If you have enough time, stop working on it all day. If you’ve got a deadline coming right up, take a ten-minute time-out. If you don’t want to try a powernap, meditation or a walk, you could just make a drink as an excuse to get up and stop what you’re doing.

A brief pause is a good way to break up the day and stop you from feeling bogged down. Tiredness doesn’t only happen because you need sleep. Your focus may simply be drained and it’s another way you tell yourself to take off for a while. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after a bit of time away from a task.

6. A ritual for energy (and calm)

I love loose leaf tea. Watching the leaves brew and relaxing to a cup of green tea at once relaxes and energises my mood. You should try the same. And if green tea isn’t your thing, find your own ritual that gives you a boost in a way that you can get used to without having to break into a sweat.

There are many ways to pep yourself up naturally. You don’t have to rely on energy drinks and other hardcore stimulants.

How do you restore your energy? Go on, share some of your own tips!

Sleeping on a Busy Student Lifestyle

Returning, once more, to sleep. This might seem familiar to you:

“A lot of their tips for a better night’s sleep probably sound fairly obvious; keep to a regular schedule, take time to relax before going to sleep, avoid food and caffeine after a certain time of day. How easily these things can be slotted into an average student’s timetable is another question.” [Cherwell]

This has long been a fascination of mine. How do you balance a busy schedule with late nights and different hours, with a quality sleep each night? For so many students, sensible advice on sleep doesn’t help because you’re too busy doing less sensible stuff.

That’s not to say you aren’t able to act sensibly, but how many of you will stick to the same bedtime every single day of the year? I certainly don’t.

The BBC reports on a study at Boston College, which found high levels of sleep deprivation in school students. I wouldn’t be surprised if lack of sleep continues on at university too. And beyond!

(photo by BrittneyBush)

Sleep doesn’t have to be a nightmare (photo by BrittneyBush)

How do you keep up the lifestyle you want and get a better dose of sleep? Try these five things:

  1. Give it your best shot – When you know you’re tired and should be in bed, make a move toward getting the zeds. The number of times I hear stuff like, “I’m so tired, but I need to stay a bit longer” and “I’ve got important work in the morning, but I can’t miss this” is amazing. Nobody wants to miss out, but how often is it worth it in the long run? Make a choice and pay the price based on what you choose. Don’t try to fit everything in.
  2. Focus on the worst habit – All that advice may be hard to swallow, but just think how much you could benefit from tackling just one major sleep issue. Christie Mims says, “make one change that will make you feel better and will have a positive impact on your day”. If, for example, you go heavy on the energy drinks at the end of a night out, find a way to lay off them. That one sacrifice may be enough to improve your sleep in a big way.
  3. Deal with the easiest issues – Instead of dealing with the worst habit straight away, try the other way around. Get the small stuff out of the way. Anything that makes for a quick win can still help the cause for better sleep. Take baby steps and you may find that it only takes a few before you’ve improved your circumstances a lot.
  4. Be brutal when it counts – Perfect sleep over the whole year may seem to much to ask. Instead, try for a few better nights when you’ve got essays to write and exams to revise for. Check in advance when the big study events are scheduled and commit to hardcore sleep tactics during that time. No question.
    You may be tempted to stay out late, but don’t. You’d love that last pint, but don’t. You’d rather stay up late to get more revision done, but don’t. Remind yourself that this isn’t going to last forever and that you have good reason for what you’re doing.
  5. Listen to your body – Rather than get more hours of sleep, change the quality of the hours you’re already getting.

How do you bridge the gap between student life and awesome sleep? Let us know in the comments.

Sleep prep is a choice. How far will you go to catch the best Zzzzzzzz?

You know the feeling. You wish sleep didn’t get in the way of your life, but you know how fab it feels when you are asleep.

Yes, there are never enough hours in the day. So what can you do?

Lifehack has published “19 Ways to Fall Asleep Fast“, with useful, solid, standard advice.

photo by Paparuchas

photo by Paparuchas

However, you may find some – perhaps most – of the tips hard to follow in a student lifestyle:

  • Limit alcohol?
  • Stop looking at your phone, TV and computer?
  • Go to sleep at the same time every night?
  • Adopt a regular bedtime routine?

Sounds a bit much, eh? No wonder advice on sleep is common, while following that advice is less so.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If your bedtime routine is causing you problems, a good way to frame the situation is to view it with importance. That is, decide how much impact your sleep (or lack of it…) has on the rest of your life. The part of your life where you’re awake.

Well, where you *should* be awake…

What you decide is for nobody but yourself. View it as your choice. Any change you make is with you in mind. How far you take things is a personal matter.

When you’re tired and struggling to cope with the daily routine, something’s gotta give. You can’t be stubborn and have all the things you’re used to. There is no quick fix.

With care, you can make the most of your sleep and do more with your time. Listen to yourself.

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting too much sleep? Are you being disrupted and interrupted in the night? Is it quality sleep? How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? What is your mood like during the day?

Questions like these are crucial to understanding where things are going wrong and what you need to do to get back on track. Sleep accounts for around a third of your time on this planet. What happens in that time has knock-on consequences to what happens while you’re awake.

Do you go to bed when it suits your lifestyle or when it suits your body? If it’s more the former, you may not be doing yourself any favours.

For instance, it’s frustrating that some people seem to be able to sleep for four hours and wake up with a spring in their step every morning, but we’re all different. Some of us need double that just to cope with the basics!

Before you scream with rage, there’s hope yet. With a bit of change and a better routine, you may find that you don’t need as much sleep as you think. Change the quality of the sleep you get, rather than increase the number of hours.

To get you there, take the Lifehack advice seriously, and check out these posts from TheUniversityBlog’s archives to get you buzzing when you’re awake and to calm you down when it’s time to snuggle under the covers:

Goodnight. Sleep tight!

17 Refreshing Ways to Stay Awake

Your eyelids are growing heavy.  You can’t keep your eyes open.  Sleep will be upon you soon.

Must…Stay…Awake…

Can’t…

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

We’ve all been there.  But what can you do to help stay awake and (in most cases) stay alert?  Here are 17 top tips for you:

original photo by Cassidy Curtis

original photo by Cassidy Curtis

  1. Move – Staying in the same place for ages doesn’t help.  Get up and dance around, jump up and down, shake your arms and legs all over the place. If you’re in public then, of course, do it twice as enthusiastically. 😉
  2. Powernap – There are usually two choices: fight the sleep or go to sleep. Taking a quick powernap is the third, most beneficial, answer.
  3. Change what you’re doing frequently – The longer you spend on a task, the more danger you’re in of drifting off.  Any jobs that aren’t totally exciting or engaging are going to send your thoughts elsewhere from time to time.  Don’t get to the point where your head crashes to your desk and you knock yourself out. Find a different task to refresh you for a moment. Return to the less exciting task when you’ve recovered.
  4. Remember to eat – You will feel lethargic if you don’t eat enough. Feed as you work. Have something nearby so you remember. Or set an alarm when it’s time to think about food.
  5. Get talking or singing (exercise the vocal chords) – Who doesn’t love the sound of their own voice? Okay, that’s not what’s going to keep you awake…however, a break from silence can be enough to rouse you back into a more awakened state.  Belt out a song and see the world with sparkle once more!
  6. Change the lighting – Open the curtains, turn up the light, switch on a lamp, move to a brighter area.  Or reduce the glare, if necessary (can’t have you squinting either).
  7. Go outside – Have a walk, sit on the grass, look to the sky, breathe in the (possibly) clean air.  If possible, find a place that’s full of trees and fields and lots of green.  What’s stopping you from working outside?
  8. Have a drink – Fatigue comes about when you’re low on fluids and dehydrating. Grab a refreshing drink. Especially a cold one.  And preferably water.
  9. Do some free association writing – Go crazy and churn out a whole load of rubbish from your head.  Let it all out.  Just write or type or speak whatever comes into your head. When you’ve been sat there, waiting for inspiration, the flow can stop and you get tired with it. Churning out anything, no matter how weird, will soon wake you up again.
  10. Self-harm – Not as brutal as it sounds…a quick pinch to the back of your hand can help you refocus.
  11. Do something new or risky – The basic idea here is to reignite your senses.  By risky, I mean something that you feel slightly uncomfortable doing…I don’t mean you should act dangerously!
  12. Do sudoku – Give yourself a mental boost by working on a puzzle.  Crosswords, logic problems, sudoku, anything to get your mind racing. Make sure it’s not too difficult or too easy, otherwise you may start wandering again.
  13. Splash your face with cold water
  14. Wash your hands with cold water – Can’t deal with splashing your face?  Cold water on your hands is the next best thing.
  15. Move away from what’s affecting you – Sometimes you’ve just had enough and need a quick break.  You know the times when you know you’re not tired, but you’re still fighting sleep?  You must finish something but your body won’t let you.  Taking just a 5-10 minute break may be enough to let you get back to what you’re meant to be doing.
  16. Find company – If you’re on your own and finding it difficult to concentrate, seek out other people.  They may distract you from the work too, but since you were already being distracted…
  17. Make time to sleep properly – When faced with a need to stay up longer than usual, or when you’re neglected sleep for a few days, promise yourself that well-earned recovery sleep as soon as possible.  If you go a few days on little sleep, spend the next few days trying to regulate things again.

Let us know what tips you have in the comments. I’m sure you’ve got snore more!