The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Sleep Hygiene

The pathway to better sleep

Food, shelter, and water are the three main components that come to mind in order to survive. Food provides nutrients and energy to the body in order to function, shelter to protect from harsh weather environments such as snow, rain, and heat, and water is used to regulate, maintain, and moisten the body. One thing that does not come to mind is sleep. Sleep is an important component to allow the brain to reset and recharge after an action packed day full of new experiences and memories.

When sleep occurs, the brain is still highly active. The brain uses this time to help organize and filter through memories. This helps understand and retain new information and experiences to look back upon. During this time, the brain also removes waste buildup in the brain. The process is called the glymphatic system, in which old fluid is flushed away along with any harmful cells or bacteria and is replaced with fresh fluid. Flushing the brain of harmful toxins can help prevent the buildup of beta-amyloid, which when accumulated, can cause brain disorders such as inflammation, confusion, and possible alzheimers.

Sleep not only helps reset your brain, but it helps reset the body too. The brain repairs any damage to the body and assistes in re-energizes muscles and organs in preparation for the next day. Toxins, the stress hormone cortisol, pollutants, or infections are flushed out of the body during this time. Specifically, this helps reset your cognitive abilities, such as decision making, short and long term memory, and problem solving to stay sharp and vigilant when you need to.

Furthermore, sleep hygiene, a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall and stay asleep can overall improve your health. 

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Setting a consistent sleep schedule is the first step to improving your sleep. Making a consistent sleep routine will help regulate and remind your body that around a certain time, you should be falling asleep. This helps your body stay on a schedule that it can easily follow. Unfortunately, this includes falling asleep and waking up at the same time during weekends. Having a set routine will help your body stay on track and start producing melatonin, the sleep hormone. Ideally, this routine should include approximately seven to eight hours of sleep.

Another tip is not to lay in bed when you are not tired. You should use your bed only for naps and sleeping during the night. This helps your brain associate the bed only with sleep. With this in mind, if you were to lay in bed all the time, the body gets confused. Then when you lay down to sleep during the night, the brain will not immediately make you sleepy. Ideally you should be falling asleep within 30 minutes, but if that is not the case, get out of bed and try to do a calming or relaxing task. Things such as reading a book, coloring in a journal, or listening to music helps calm the mind and relax the body. Try to avoid looking at devices during this time, as the blue light can halt the production of melatonin.

Speaking of electronics, it is recommended to stay off devices  30 minutes before going to bed. During this time, try implementing a nightly routine. Showers, brushing your teeth, and cleansing the body are all ways you can help relax and unwind. The reason to stay away from electronics is because the brain associates blue light as light from the sun. This confuses the circadian rhythm, a daily process that your body follows, and prevents the synthesis of melatonin.

Furthermore, do not eat a heavy meal right before bedtime, but also do not go to bed hungry. Hunger can keep you awake, and a heavy meal can hinder proper digestion and make it uncomfortable to sleep, resulting in tossing and turning throughout the night. Having a healthy, light snack before bed will saite the stomach without weighing it down. 

Another main issue that prevents most students from falling asleep are drinks such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks that are rich in caffeine. Avoiding the consumption of caffeine six hours before bedtime can help the body naturally feel tired. The body can take anywhere from one to nine hours to fully process caffeine depending on how much you consumed. Caffeine helps you stay energized and awake during the day because it blocks sleep promoting receptors in the brain. This will hinder the ability to wind down and sleep throughout the night. Avoiding caffeine, or switching to decaffeinated coffee for all the coffee lovers out there, can help the body produce sleep hormones. 

Following these helpful tips can help promote better, easier to obtain sleep.


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