Sleep deprivation is a common at university, let alone at Oxford. You would be hard pressed to find an Oxonian who has made it safely to the end of the year without having pulled several an all-nighters. With emails delivered straight to your smart phones, and a proliferation of social networking tools, it’s very difficult to switch off. When the lack of sleep tires us out, constant work and social demands cause us to resort to sugar and caffeine to plow through, disturbing our sleep even more and making us exhausted.
Sleep is of vital importance to us, and a continual deficit can cause weight gain and stress, decrease our immunity and speed up skin ageing, along with other long-term health effects. So beautify yourself from the inside by catching up on sleep – seven to eight hours per night is the recommended amount. If you’re having trouble winding down, here are some tips to help you sleep your way to better health:
- Change your diet. Don’t have big dinners, and avoid caffeine-laden food and drinks at night, such as chocolate, soft drinks and coffee. The same applies for spicy and fatty foods. As for alcohol, although it can make you feel drowsy, it actually disturbs sleep. Instead, eat foods that will help aid your sleep: lean white meat, seafood, leafy greens, yoghurt and edamame (which can be found for 99p after 9.30pm at Itsu!).
- Avoid exercising at night. Exercise makes you excited. If you do exercise in the evening, try a more relaxing sport such as yoga, and make sure you leave enough time for your body to calm down and unwind before going to bed.
- Use calming scents. Certain oil extracts, such as lavender and chamomile, can help you sleep better. Use This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (£16 at boots) on your pillows and sheets, or, alternatively, make your own sleep spray! Simply add 10 drops of oil extract (Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile or Sage are best for unwinding and relaxing), 1.5 teaspoons of witch hazel, and 10ml of distilled water to a spray bottle.
- Keep the noise down. If you can’t control external sounds, drown them out with rhythmic, soothing sounds from free apps such as Ambience Lite, White Noise Lite, eSleep Lite and NatureSpace (available on both Android and iPhone).
- Keep your room cool. A room that is too hot, too cold, or poorly ventilated, can disturb sleep.
- Sleep in the dark. Turn off your computer and cover electrical displays. Alternatively you can use a sleep mask – à la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
- Catch up during the day. If worst comes to worst, a short power nap can contribute towards repaying your sleep debt without disturbing your sleep cycle.