Your old nemesis is back; say hello (again) to the exam season! It’s time for the gaming consoles to be packed away and the text books, lecture notes, flashcards, summaries and mind maps to come back out. The exam season means you have to make tons of sacrifices, and that is an important part of levelling up and becoming an adult. However, having a good night’s sleep is not a sacrifice you should be making. Sleep is super-important for your physical and mental wellbeing. This includes your immune system, metabolism, cognitive and emotional wellbeing, and your ability to learn and retain important information. It also helps you not to look like a zombie; you feel me?
Here are six tried-and-tested tips to help you sleep better during exams:
1. Add sleep to your study timetable.
a) Plan each day. Start by plotting what subjects and sections need to be covered each day, then add how much time you will need for each. Lastly, add what time your day will end and at what time you need to be in bed to get enough sleep. PS: Add in half an hour for you to fall asleep!
2. Be more aware of what you eat and when you eat.
a) While it is important to keep yourself full, eating your meals late after a long day of studying will change your internal clock and impair your sleep. Even if it means taking a quick break, make sure you have your last big meal before 19:00.
b) If you are peckish before bed, eat some foods that are rich in tryptophan, such as milk, bananas, turkey and walnuts.
3.Step away from the coffee.
a) Yes, this includes fizzy drinks, tea and even chocolate. Even if these things do not really affect you, try to stay away from them after 15:00 just to be careful.
4.Create a space for study and a space for rest and do not mix them.
a) The brain is amazing and complex. While you might think that checking your emails, scrolling through socials or even doing some last-minute revision in bed is not harmful, think again. This will stop the brain from associating your bedroom as a place of rest, but rather a place of cognitive arousal.
5.Don’t be scrolling through the socials in bed.
a) Looking at your friend’s new cat on Instagram while you are in bed will literally haunt you. The light emitted from electronic devices will negatively influence the body’s internal clock and delay the release of that all-important ‘sleep hormone’ called melatonin. You are probably thinking ‘but I do that and sleep every night’, but the truth is that the sleep you have will be light and non-refreshing.
6. Create a calming bedtime routine.
a) Bath, mediate, or do your skin care routine. Whatever it is, make sure it relaxes and calms you before bed.