Trouble sleeping is one of the most common problems we see at the student health center, and now that you’re in the midst of mid-terms, sleep is even more difficult to come by than usual. Not only does stress itself cause insomnia, but the need to prepare for all of those exams at once induces behaviors that compound the problem: pounding the caffeine; bailing on the exercise routine; surrounding yourself with other people who are all wigging out.
People usually come in requesting a prescription for a sleeping pill. While these medicines are fairly effective and safe, they have significant side effects and should be used only sparingly. And besides, taking caffeine pills/drinks/gum to stay awake during the day and then more pills to fall asleep at night is a dangerous pattern to get into.
So here are 7 things you can do to make sure you get the best sleep possible. Admittedly, they’re not as easy as popping a pill, but they’re more effective and a lot safer for you in the long run.
- No daytime naps
- Limit caffeine
- Exercise (preferably early in the day)
- Do not eat right before going to bed
- Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day
- Use your bed only for sleeping (i.e. no watching TV or reading)
- Get out of bed if you cannot sleep and go do something relaxing
Good luck on your exams!
John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University