You know that amazing feeling when you wake up before your alarm goes off, and you hop out of bed well-rested and ready to take on the day?
Yeah, me neither.
For me, waking up is usually more like trying to pull off a toenail: painful, slow, and pretty much miserable. I drag myself out of bed, barely awake enough to get where I need to go, and stay half asleep until lunch.
The worst part of this terrible pattern is that when I have the chance to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep, I just don’t. I lie there for what feels like hours, and just end up mad at myself for not being relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Anyone who’s been there knows how much that sucks.
The thing is, sleep is really, really important. The National Sleep Foundation has said that it’s just as important to staying alive and healthy as eating, drinking, and breathing. Getting enough sleep is necessary for your brain to work the way it should. This chart tells you how much sleep is enough by your age; the sweet spot for teenagers is actually 8-10 hours.
But let’s be real, life doesn’t really work that way. We have to wake up super early to get to school, go to our clubs, jobs, and teams in the afternoons and evenings, and then we have to deal with homework??? It’s no wonder that only 15% of teenagers get enough sleep on school nights.
Those are things we can’t control. But if you’re anything like me, you want to find things you CAN do so that when you do finally get to reunite with your lover (aka your pillow), you’re snoozing faster and better, to make the most of the time you do have.
So I did some research, and found some easy ways to actually sleep well.
DON’T EAT RIGHT BEFORE BED
- That midnight snack really isn’t doing you any good. Also, beware of drinking too much before bed- you’ll have to get up to pee in the middle of the night, and that’s not what we want.
MAKE YOUR BED YOUR SLEEPING SANCTUARY
2. Don’t do too many other things on your bed like watching TV or doing homework. That way when you finally do hit the sack, your brain knows it’s time to chill out.
PRACTICE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
3. Wash your face, put on lotion, read a little, brush your hair. Figure out a routine that’s calming and doesn’t take a lot of concentration. Whatever you do, do it every night. After a while, your brain will figure out that this routine is its cue to relax.
EXERCISE DURING THE DAY
4. If your body is tired, it’ll be ready to turn itself off at night to repair muscle tissue. (ps exercise is good for LITERALLY EVERYTHING.)
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!!!!!!!!
5. The blue light from your screen (this goes for computers and tablets too) tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so it doesn’t release melatonin and keeps you wide awake, even after you’ve turned your phone over. So even though this seems impossible, just try it for a week: turn your phone (and all your screens) off an hour before you go to bed. (If you use your device for an alarm, here’s a cheap and cute alternative!)
6. Now this technically won’t help you fall asleep at night, but naps can help you get through a day if you’re sleep deprived, as many of us are. It’s just important to time it right. A twenty-minute nap will improve your mood and make you more alert when you wake up, without taking a huge chunk of your day.
The world demands a lot from us- school, family, teams, clubs, jobs, friends… It feels like there’s barely time to take a deep breath, let alone sleep. But sleeping well makes all those things so much easier to deal with. We owe it to ourselves to get as much good sleep as we can, so we can do the things we need to do better, and enjoy the things we want to do more.