We’ve written several blogs about sleep in college and the need to maintain good mental health routines that improve sleep. This blog furthers that line of thought because sleep becomes an issue in college for many. Good sleep quality improves a student’s quality of life, both mentally and physically, and for this reason it cannot be emphasized enough. With good sleep, life is easier, which is the philosophy behind our life Hack Decks™. Therefore, we will continue with the topic of sleep and how it improves quality of life, especially in college. This time we focus on sleep and mental health. This blog reinforces many things we highlight in Dorm Deck.
9 Sleep Hacks for Mental Health:
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Think About Happy Things
When you’re lying in bed, ready to go to sleep, don’t fall into the common trap of thinking about tomorrow and everything that you need to do the next day. Don’t dwell on the things that went wrong during the day or other stressful problems in your life. Instead, focus on what you’re grateful for or think back to peaceful locations you’ve been, whether its a local hike in the forest or beach trip.
For other ways to feel gratitude and do random acts of kindness for others that improve your mental health, see our Random Acts of Kindness Deck. This life Hack Deck™ provides easy to pay-it-forward prompts that encourage positive mental health.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Plan for Tomorrow
After dinner, in the early evening, prepare for the following day. If you start thinking about what you need do the next day right at bed, you can easily get worked up and have trouble falling asleep. Alternatively, not preparing at all can make your mornings more stressful and throw your entire day off. Life includes preparation. Preparation looks different to everyone. Preparation may mean writing down a to-do list or making a schedule to stay on track the following day. See our Dorm Deck prompt cards for hacks that help make dorm room living, and life, easier. These hack decks encourage organization, daily scheduling, and preparation for successful daily outcomes.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Breathe
Simply taking some deep breaths before bed can help ease you into a restful sleep. Taking in a deep breath, holding for a moment, then releasing, can instantly lower your heart rate and take away a bit of tension. There are many deep breathing techniques. These include box breathing. Box breathing, sometimes called square breathing, is a simple tool for managing anxiety. A racing heart, rapid breathing, and dizziness can make people with anxiety feel out of control. Controlled, slow breaths can reduce anxiety.
How to do Box Breathing
- Step 1: Breathe in counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Try to avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.
- Step 4: Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel re-centered.
You don’t have to save deep breathing for right before bed. Take a few moments out of your busy day to focus on your breath to reduce stress you might not have even realized was there.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Don’t Stress About Sleep
It happens to everyone. You’re lying in bed wanting to fall asleep, thinking about how awake you feel and everything you need to do tomorrow. Then you get anxious about how you are not sleeping. Relax and take a breath. Don’t focus on falling asleep. Instead, just simply focus on getting rest. Focus on positive, relaxing thoughts. If light music or a sound machine isn’t helping, grab a book for thirty minutes under a dim light. If you still can’t fall asleep, get up for a little bit and try again. Sometimes it takes longer to wind down than you realize.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Could It Be Something Else?
Insomnia and trouble sleeping are common symptoms of anxiety and depression. The same way you eat healthfully, exercise, and take a vitamin for your physical health, you need to do things to take care of your emotional and mental health. Meditation, exercise, talking with trusted friends, and spending time outdoors can help alleviate anxiety. Being outdoors and getting sunlight help to establish good sleep patterns. If you’re struggling with anxiety, sadness, or depression, don’t wait to ask for help. See what resources your school offers for mental health and schedule an appointment with a therapist.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Keep Your Room Clean
Maybe now that you’re out of the house and living in your own college dorm room, you don’t have someone constantly telling you to clean your room. But the truth is, a clean, organized room is going to help you sleep better. Whether it’s knowingly bothering you or not, clutter causes stress. Studies have proven that cortisol levels increase when a person is surrounded by clutter. If you have a bunch of unorganized stuff all around you, it’s not going to be a good environment for rest and relaxation.
Life Hack Decks™ offers two decks to address clutter. The first is Declutter Deck™ that helps you learn to declutter and organize your space. The second is Dorm Deck that teaches you to become more organized in your dorm room environment. Both decks focus on the importance of decluttering and organizing, which are proven to help with sleep issues by reducing your stress level.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Social Media and Sleep
Social media is an easy way to keep up with your friends and family spread out across the country, but it’s not the best bedtime activity. Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and anything else is going to overload you with too much stimulus. It might be entertaining or fun to see videos, photos, and catch up on family news, but it’s not going to ease you into sleep. Reduce bedtime stimulation by reducing your focus on social media before bed. Catch up the following day. Put your phone and computer away thirty minutes before sleep so you have energy the next morning.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Class Scheduling
One of the best parts of college is the independence and ability to create your own class schedule. Often, there is flexibility when you can take a certain class, depending on course demand. Keep sleep in mind when choosing your class times and location. A class that ends late at night can throw your sleep schedule off. The same is true for an early morning class across campus. Try to keep in mind what works best for you when you schedule classes. Your personal habits and energy cycles make a difference in your overall success. Harness times when your energy is strong and remember to go easy on yourself during low periods. We all have them. Learn to recognize yours and work within your boundaries.
Sleep Hack for Mental Health: Lean on Your Circadian Rhythm
Our body clock and sleep/wake cycles, known as our circadian rhythm, are largely dependent on light sources. When we are exposed to light, our bodies are told it’s time to be awake. When we are in the dark, our bodies are signaled to produce melatonin and prepare for sleep. Take advantage of this knowledge and manipulate your light sources as necessary. If you need black out curtains to stay asleep during the night, you may want to compensate for the lack of morning sunlight with a wake-up light that will mimic the natural rising of the sun in your room and help you wake up.
A Novel Graduation Gift – Dorm Deck by life Hack Decks™
A new product that has recently come onto the market is Dorm Deck by life Hack Decks™. Dorm Decks are a deck of 52 card prompts that help ease the transition from living at home to living independently in a dorm. The prompts help first year students get out ahead of the curve of college life by doing things such as setting up a calendar that makes remembering homework easier.
Dorm Deck is full of unique and quality ideas that make the first year of college fun and effective. This is one of the best high school grad gifts to give a loved one going off to college for the first time. It is also a great item to tuck inside a care package along with cookies and a few treats. Give a gift that will help your college student succeed while making college dorm life feel a little more personal. Small touches and life hacks can make all the difference in a college student’s success.