Thursday, 23 March 2017

A New Series About Exam Tips - Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Getting that good night’s sleep the night before an exam — impossible, right? Well, here are some ideas that might help.

It looks so easy, doesn't it?

One of the things that will help get to sleep is eating foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan, since these will in turn help your body manufacture the sleep hormone, melatonin. These include dairy products like cheese, yoghurt, milk, as well as nuts, seeds, meat, and even tofu.

On the other hand, bright flashing lights and back-lit screens from television, tablets, and other electronic devices have been shown to suppress melatonin production. They emit "blue light" which your brain interprets as daylight, so turning these off nice and early - say, 5 pm - would be a good idea if you’re wanting to get to sleep early.

Electronics can inhibit sleep hormones

To my mind, though, one of the key things to do is start a regular bedtime routine in the month before the exam period. It doesn't take long for your body clock to shift and expect earlier bedtimes, especially if you couple that with early rising. Just by making it a habit, you'll be more likely to be tired when it's time for bed.

Here are some other things suggested by a sleep specialist called Dr Adler:
  • Avoid caffeine after noon the day before the event/exam.
  • Light exercise can be helpful, but don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t overeat the evening before.
  • Listening to relaxing music can be helpful; hard rock might not be a good choice.
  • A shower or bath is sometimes helpful (try adding lavender oil, too!). 
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t try to fill the time with further studying. It can be helpful to go to bed even if you don’t think you are going to be able to fall asleep. 

If you don't know it by now,
you're not going to. Go to bed!

Finally, here’s the best tactic of all - simply don’t worry about it. Yes! Don’t worry!

How can I say that? Well, studies show that an occasional bad night isn’t really that big of a deal, and you can actually function just fine if you don’t manage to sleep the night before your exam.

Paradoxically, keeping this in mind may actually help you to sleep after all, since the pressure is off in terms of that good night’s sleep.

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