How to Get Some Sleep – Even With Finals (or Other Stress)

29 Nov

Diana Ross and the Supremes Sleeping

For all those college students out there, chances are, finals are just around the corner. These are the precious last weeks you can spend studying for the exam that can decide your fate in a particular class. You’ve got a lot on your mind and tons of stress – even if finals aren’t on your plate (lucky you!). This can mean two things for your sleep pattern: either you find it more difficult to sleep or you can’t seem to find the time! And trust me, I understand. I’ve been known to haunt the library at an indecent hour, cramming for a test, double espresso coffee in hand.But keep in mind that robbing your body of sleep is detrimental to your success, even if you do manage to cover that last bio-chem chapter.

For all you finals week insomniacs, hitting the books without a wink of shut-eye, this is for you.

Use Your Time Wisely!

  • Plan for assignments and exams AHEAD of time – If you’ve been steadily reviewing for the past few weeks, the urge to spend the night cramming will be less intense.You can even do a broad sweep over your notes – highlight the key points for each section and explain them to yourself. It’s a simple way to know what you do and do not understand, which will help you waste less time.
  • Include sleep in your schedule – Create a stopping point for yourself, even if it’s 3:00 in the morning. And stick with it. You may be less likely to mess around if you know you have a time limit. Also, if you’re feeling exhausted, get some rest! Your mind is far less productive when tired and you’re more likely to synthesize and absorb information with adequate sleep.
  • Keep a routine – You’re less likely to throw your body out of whack if you keep up a consistent sleeping schedule, even if it is a “finals” sleeping schedule. Allowing yourself to pull all-nighters may cause your body to attempt to catch up on sleep at a highly inopportune time.

Clear Your Mind

  • Maintain a sleeping environment in your room – try to study at a place other than your bed, so your mind associates it with rest. Yes, this may mean cleaning off your desk. I understand your pain.
  • Try to keep clutter at a minimum – I know when I’m stressed, it’s reflected in the state of my bedroom. If clutter is unavoidable, try to concentrate your mess in a location that’s out-of-the-way, or clean up at the end of the day or week. It can make a great study break too, if you need to get up and stretch your muscles!
  • Focus on rest – It’s difficult to sleep when your mind is thinking over physics equations or trying to keep track of a lengthy to-do list. My suggestion? Keep a notebook by your bed to keep track of errant thoughts, including what you need to get accomplished the next day. When you know you won’t forget things (or at the very least are able to remind yourself), you can rest easier.

Substance Use

  • Or lack thereof – Don’t drink caffeine four hours before you plan to sleep – there’s no point in sitting in bed if you’re still hopped up. Also, try to eat ahead of time – I know that if I’m hungry, I can’t get to sleep.
  • Try Melatonin – Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound that regulates your sleep cycle. You can also buy it in most pharmacies. While it is non habit-forming, it can really knock you out. I don’t suggest taking it (and half a pill at that!) unless you intend to get a night’s sleep.

Hopefully this helps! Do you have any finals week (or other crunch time) sleep tactics? Share them in the comments!




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