Sleep is incredibly important. Last year MIT released a study looking at the correlation between exercise and grades. The researchers gave students fitbits and recorded their activity for a number of weeks.
At the end of the study, they couldn’t find a correlation between exercise and grades but they found a surprisingly strong connection between sleep and grades.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise but what’s interesting is the degree to which sleep had an impact. Robert Stickgold, the director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Harvard Medical School noted:
“The overall course grades for students averaging six and a half hours of sleep were down 50 percent from other students who averaged just one hour more sleep. Similarly, those who had just a half-hour more night-to-night variation in their total sleep time had grades that dropped 45 percent below others with less variation.”
Before diving into the recommendations, it’s important to keep an open mind. A lot of these ideas will seem like common sense. That’s because they are. Sleep is simple.
Just because the ideas are common sense doesn’t mean they don’t work. Avoid people who make sleep complicated and are trying to sell you something. And keep tweaking your routine until you find what works for you. This will positively affect every part of your life.
1) Lock in a Consistent Sleep Sched
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule every day is the cornerstone here. Our bodies keep an internal clock of when to wake up and fall asleep – the circadian rhythm. When we align our body’s natural patterns with a tight schedule, we allow ourself to truly rest and recover.
Locking in a schedule is the first habit because it’s the most important and easiest to screw up. To master this one, you need to learn to say no as things, events, and people come into your life later in the day. You need to set your schedule and keep it.
FOMO is a sleep schedule killer.
Here are a couple practical tips to get you started:
- Keep your friends and family in the loop. Let them know your schedule. When the people in your life are aligned with your prioritize it makes it easier to follow through with your commitments.
- Set an alarm an hour before bed. Give yourself a reminder when you need to start winding down. Often the morning you and the night you are different people.
2) Have a Winding Down Routine
After locking in a consistent sleep routine, the next step is to build a winding down routine. This could be:
- Playing an instrument
- Watching a light TV show
- Going on a walk
Anything that helps you relax.
There’s a lot of talk about blue screens and how it affects melatonin. Yes light can impact your sleep schedule, but the blue light idea has recently been debunked. As it turns out it’s not the color of the screen but the type of content that affects sleep.
If you’re working on a last minute work project or watching a intense action film, this will most likely wind you up. On the other hand, if you’re watching a light cartoon or reading something lite, you’re fine.
Other examples of things that’ll wind you up:
- Heavy intellectual content
- Horror films
- Thrillers films
Things that’ll wind you down:
- Lite cartoons
- Comedy shows
Be conscious of what calms you down and do that.
3) Avoid Drugs and Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol and drugs reduce the depth of sleep and fragment your sleep cycles.
There’s some controversy about marijuana before bed. You have to be careful with this one. A little during your winding down routine is fine. Smoking or eating a lot right before bed will is not.
Get the timing wrong and you’ll often wake up slow and feeling groggy.
4) Working Out
Our bodies are meant to move. If you’re not getting the right amount of exercise during the week your body will let you know. If you don’t have a gym membership, you can go for a walk or run.
5) Hot Shower / Bath
When living in hunter-gather communities, we woke when the sun came up and slept when the sun went down. When the sun goes down it gets colder out, triggering that it’s time to settle down.
We no longer live outside but we can still take advantage of this hack. Taking a hot shower before bed is one tip. When getting out of the shower you’re body’s core temperature will drop.
Another hack is to turn you AC on around 68 degrees before bed.
When we’re asleep our brains our consolidating and trashing information we gathered from the day. If we want to get good grades we make sure we’re prioritizing this process.
Besides grades, sleep affects pretty much every part of our lives. Our relationships, our work, our mood, everything.
A lot of people like to make it complicated. Don’t listen to them. These people are usually just trying to sell you something.
We hope this has helped you understand how to build better sleep habits. Building better sleep habits will help with every other part of your life.