Non-Drug Sleeping Tactics by Dr. Jess

The world isn’t getting any easier. Judging by the recent headlines, there’s more to be shook up about than ever. Add a little end of semester jitters and it’s quite possible that a third installment of Spring Semester Freak-Out Remedies might be in order.

This time, I thought I’d give away a few evening rituals that I’ve learned over the years. I’m a hopeless case when it comes to sleep. If I’ve got a lot on my mind, you can kiss a restful night goodbye. I’m a champion Clock Gazer, watching the little red numbers tick by, getting more and more anxious the closer morning gets, practically ready to run a marathon by 4 AM.

I’ve always envied those people who pass out the minute their heads hit the pillow. I don’t understand what they do with their minds, but someday I hope to learn. Until then, this is what I do to calm down.

Two Hours before Bedtime: I turn my music down, and shut off the “Kelly Clarkson/Ozzy Ozbornâ€? Playlist. Loud music helps me write—or dance around when I’m about to crack from stress—but it also revs up my body. I’ve found switching to a soft folk or classical station actually slows my heartbeat, and calms me without my head really noticing. I’ve also had a lot less complaints from downstairs neighbors.

One Hour before Bedtime: Tea or milk. Cold milk (or Soymilk) usually does the trick; coating my stomach and giving me a nice, soft, full feeling. If you can’t grab the white stuff, go for a comforting herbal tea. The less intense flavor, the better, and drink it ssllooooww. Gulping hot liquid is never a good idea. For an added relaxation boost, see if you can take a break from the computer or books and have your drink during a few moments of quiet. Don’t do anything. Just breathe, sip, and daydream. I prefer Jake Gyllenhaal in spandex, but feel free to go wherever your little mind pleases.

Half Hour before Bedtime: Wash up. Don’t wait to brush those pearly whites and Noxima that face until right before you go to sleep. It’s the sort of thing that can get you thinking on high speed again, especially if you see that dude with the six pack who never wears a shirt. Breaking the routine is always good, and getting all your bathroom stuff done early allows you to close your door and chill out for the last 30 minutes.

Twenty Minutes before Bedtime: Stretch. Your body is probably crying inside from being stuck in the sitting position for hours. By the end of the day my back is so sore you’d think I was an acrobat or something. Stretching is the best way to bring your body back to equilibrium, and will more often than not get your limbs ready to relax.

Ten Minutes before Bedtime: Make a list. A sure way to stay awake is to try and order things in your head as you lie under the covers. Figuring out what you need to bring to Biology 205 tomorrow or what shoes to wear with those new white pants is not something you can solve in bed. Make a list of everything you need to do tomorrow. Be thorough. Use different color markers if you need to. Put it next to your computer, and then STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. Sleepy time is not the time when any of those things will get done. Your list will be waiting for you in the morning. Visit it then.

Five Minutes before Bedtime: Close your eyes and daydream. Seriously. Give yourself a few minutes of ‘me’ time. Think about whatever that makes you smile. Go over good moments in the day. Decide what you’re going to eat for breakfast. Remember that night at Chippendales. Go to town. Getting comfy and happy is gonna help you sleep better than anything. Just make sure you shut off those daydreams after a little bit. Some us have imaginations that rival a Jane Austin novel, and there’s no need to write 17 chapters all in one night.

Bedtime: Forget about everything. Honestly. You’ve done enough for the night, and you’ll accomplish so much more tomorrow if you just chill out and get all the icky stuff out of your head. Remember, your bed is for sleeping. I mean…it’s for other stuff too, but mostly, it’s for sweet dreams.

Lastly, do whatever you can to get 8ish hours of sleep. Your body will thank you. Research has been done. Trust me. College is only four years, and your health is the rest of your life.

And don’t worry about the Professor who wants you to memorize 80 Shakespeare sonnets in one night. A) they’re stupid, and B) I’ll write you a health note.

I make a real convincing doctor.

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