For some people, summer is the time for beaches, barbecues and blasting all the latest tunes in your car with the windows down. For others, summer is for locking the doors, crawling into bed, turning on Netflix and embracing the darkness. After all, global warming means we’ll have plenty of warm weather in the future, right? We can get our vitamin D after the oceans rise a couple more inches.
But whether you’re the all-night partier or the all-night gamer, your 4 a.m. bedtime is probably not doing you any favors in the classroom. Now that you’re back at school, it’s time to get your act straight! Slap your sleep schedule into shape with the following tips:
1. Manage your light
Just like how bright light tells your body to wake up, lack of light lets your body know that it’s time to sleep. Keep your nights dark and abstain from using those pesky, tech-y devices during your desired sleep hours. In the morning, be sure to get a lot of light exposure by taking a stroll outside or just turning on a bunch of lights.
2. Check your caffeine
Caffeine can help you stay awake during the day, which is fine, but drinking it after a certain time will affect your ability to sleep at night. While it is preferable that you drink your coffee in the morning and as far as possible from your intended sleep time, the all-knowing WebMD recommends at least six hours between your last caffeine fix and bedtime.
3. Nap strategically
Adjusting to a new schedule can make you feel drowsy during the day, in which case you shouldn’t push yourself. Sleepiness can be a fairly serious form of impairment and can affect your performance while you’re in class or while you’re driving. Quick, 30-minute naps in the afternoon can drastically improve your ability to function during the day, even when you’re not trying to recover from your summer of binge-drinking rosé (classy) or binge-watching all the dumb filler episodes of “Naruto: Shippuden” (marginally classier).
4. Control your eating
Your mealtimes can be important signals to your body, and having regular times for eating and snacking can help regulate your sleep. In general, you probably shouldn’t stuff yourself right before bed because it may make your sleep more restless and cause some mighty wicked dreams.
5. Stick to a schedule
For when you do finally get into the groove of the perfect sleep schedule, don’t deviate from it! Sticking to a set schedule will help build good sleeping habits for the rest of the school year and contribute to your academic success. To help with scheduling, you can have some regular routines to run through before you sleep to signal to let your body know it’s time for beddy-bye. And the more you practice good sleep habits, the less likely you are to fall back into the lunchtime-is-at-2-a.m. routine.