Wellbeing Champion, Georgina, provides you with tips and strategies to help you to get a good night’s sleep.
What is World Sleep Day?
It is a day to focus on the importance of sleep – and to recognise the burdens a sleeping problem can bring. It is a global day aimed at spreading awareness of sleeping issues and the importance of healthy sleep.
This year will be the 12th annual World Sleep Day! According to worldsleepday.org 35% of people do not get enough sleep, which impacts both physical and mental health.
So why is it important to get enough sleep and how do I know it’s healthy?
Research shows that just one night of poor sleep can reduce attention span, learning ability and memory recall – all of which we need at university!
In the US, it is estimated that insufficient sleep among the working population costs a staggering $411 billion per year! Imagine what we could do if we slept well every night.
Sleep loss also impacts certain hormones, these are involved in appetite regulation increasing how much food we eat.
Sleep has three key elements for a good quality rest;
- Depth, it must be a deep enough sleep to be restorative
- Duration, it must be long enough to allow you to rest
- Continuity, sleep must be without fragmentation (Not waking up every hour or so)
How can I improve my quality of sleep?
There are 10 commandments of sleep hygiene;
- Fixed time to go to sleep and wake up
- It is best to avoid taking naps during the day, to make sure that you are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is for less than an hour and before 3pm.
- Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion and do not smoke 4 hours before sleeping
- Avoid caffeine for 6 hours before sleeping
- Avoid heavy, spicy or sugary food 4 hours before sleeping
- Exercise regularly, but not just before bed
- Use comfortable bedding and ensure your room is as homely and relaxing as possible
- Keep the room well ventilated and at a comfortable temperature
- Block out distracting noises and keep as much light out as possible
- Reserve the bed for two things – sleeping and sex. No Uni work or office work in bed!
Is there anyone who can help me with sleep?
Meet our Wellbeing Champions on World Sleep Day:
Friday 15 March, 13:00 – 14:00
2nd floor, Students’ Union
Stop for a chat, say hello and pick up some sleep tips!
Student Support run a one hour Sleep Well workshop twice a year, you can find out how to attend here.
There are also some self-help articles on the intranet.
What I find helps
As a student I know it can be difficult to keep to the 10 sleeping commandments, so I’ve done variations of them myself.
- I try to drink decaffeinated tea (surprisingly good!) after lunch instead of normal tea, and limit myself of fizzy drinks.
- I limit power naps to 30 minutes of sleep, but I find just tuning out for half an hour can work well instead. Naps can affect night-time sleep so, if you can, try to power through and bring your bedtime forward instead.
- If you find it difficult to not use your bed for watching TV or doing assignments (like me!) Then it might be helpful to do these activities sitting up in the light, don’t lay in bed trying to do them in the dark. This helps your brain know that when it is dark, we sleep.
- Use night mode on your phone, this can limit notifications between certain hours (I’ve chosen 10pm-6am) and help you stay asleep. See your phones settings, as some will allow calls if there are multiple within a 3 minute period – good for emergencies!
- Having a fixed routine before bed – I take my makeup off, brush my teeth and then spend half an hour reading before I go to sleep and this seems to work well.
- Limit nights out – keep it to the weekend or a night where you do not need to be functioning at 100% the next day. Planning a night out then a library all-nighter? Not the best idea.
- If I cannot sleep, I go downstairs and watch some TV, read a book or tidy for half an hour then try again. Lying there watching the clock doesn’t help sleep, so I might as well use the time to do something I enjoy or that needs doing.
If you are finding things difficult at the moment and you would like further support, please know that the Cardiff University Support Services are here for you – there is no problem too big or too small, and we offer a range of flexible support options including:
- Self-help resources
- Peer Support
- Wellbeing Workshops
- Therapeutic Courses and Groups
- Wellbeing Walk-in: Drop-in Service running Monday to Friday 3-3:45pm, Wednesdays 9:30-10:15am
and Wellbeing Appointments
- Face to Face, Online or Telephone
- Bookable appointments are available via our online referral questionnaire.
Watch our video to meet our friendly and approachable staff, who will listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space.
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this.
If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website to view all of your GP options.
Georgina Cali Lewis-Roberts, Wellbeing Champion
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Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.