There are always those nights when you simply can’t fall asleep; I for one had that experience recently, and even though I knew I’d fall asleep eventually, I became really frustrated, which made it even more difficult for me to fall asleep. It’s really annoying, and I’m sure there are many other college students who have similar–or the same–experience. You feel like you’ve been awake forever, and you track of time. Yet you’re afraid to look at the clock, for fear of freaking you out even more, and you feel like crying; you know that you’re going to be extremely tired in the morning, especially if you have to get up early or you have a big text the next day. Obviously, this is not something can can be “cured,” per se, but there’s always something you can do to make it better.
First of all, you’ll know something’s wrong if it’s taking you longer to fall asleep than usual. If you do find you’re having difficulty falling asleep, take a minute and think about why you’re having difficulty sleeping. There are various reasons:
-You’re hungry. Perhaps you haven’t eaten in a really long time, and that tends to happen if you have an early dinner and go to bed pretty late, with no snack afterwards. Or you could be full — you’re so stuffed that maybe you’re even feeling sick.
-You’re hot or cold.
-You had a lot of caffeine shortly before going to bed. This differs for everyone; for some people, all it takes is one can of Coke and she’s awake for a long time, but for others, a couple cups of coffee won’t do anything. You’re an adult now, so you should know how much caffeine your body can tolerate.
-You took a nap during the day, or slept longer than usual the night before. Your body’s rested up enough, so it doesn’t feel quite ready for sleep.
-You’re really worried about something, or you just have a lot on your mind. Maybe you’re very stressed out about classes, friends, other personal problems, etc.
-There’s a lot of noise outside your room or nearby, which is preventing you from falling asleep. This is often the case in dorms, especially on the weekends when there’s a great deal of partying going on, and you’re not a part of that crowd.
-For some reason, you just can’t fall asleep. Your body doesn’t want to, and there’s really no knowable reason for this. You’ve thought about every possible reason why you’re still awake, and you’re at a loss.
So, hopefully now you have an idea of why you’re having difficulty sleeping; you should try one or more of the following solutions:
-If you’re hungry, snack on something–it doesn’t necessarily have to healthy, just anything that will settle your stomach if it it’s rumbling. And don’t think it’s a sin to eat now because you’ve already brush your teeth; what matters is that you have something in your stomach before you fall asleep.
-If you’re hot, take off all the covers; if that doesn’t work, turn on the air conditioner/fan, and/or put on some light pajamas. Drink a glass of ice water. If you’re cold, add more blankets and layers of clothing. If you can, turn the heat up as high as possible. Wear socks too.
-There’s really no remedy for having a lot of caffeine in your body, or for having already had enough sleep, but you can get out of bed and try to stay awake, if you don’t have to get up early in the morning. Try reading or even doing homework, but don’t use the computer, especially if you’re trying to fall asleep.
-You can also take medicine to help you fall asleep, when worst comes to worst; try Benadryl, which is even better to use when you have a cold. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t start working right away: it takes awhile to kick in. Note: if the medicine says non-drowsy, don’t take it, because it will keep you awake longer!
-If you’re worrying about something or you’re really stressed, just try to relax. I know this seems difficult, but that’s essentially the only way you’ll be able to fall asleep with ease. Try focusing on something else, something cheerful, or something you’re looking forward to (unless, of course, this keeps you up longer).
Eventually, you will fall asleep. Try doing silly things, like counting sheep — whatever seems to work for you. I was coming up with ideas for a poem I was about to write, and that helped me relax a little.
-If it’s a family member or close friend who’s keeping you awake, you might want to (politely) ask him/her to keep it down because you’re trying to fall asleep. If it’s people on your floor in a dorm who are keeping you awake, or strangers in a hotel room, then there’s really nothing you can do about it. Earplugs might help, so it’s worth a try. Otherwise, you should relax and try as hard as possible to block out that noise. If it really gets so bad that you can’t stand it, and this occurs on a regular basis, you might want to move to another location or dorm.
-Most of all, just relax and don’t dwell on it too much. I promise you, you WILL FALL ASLEEP!! Just keep telling yourself that. I know I’m a hypocrite, because I always start freaking out when I can’t fall asleep, but it’s really not worth getting upset over. It’s not like it happens every day, and if you normally get 8-9 hours of sleep a night then you’re OK.
-Keep snacks nearby, or at least in your room, especially if you’re in a dorm room. At home, you can go downstairs and eat something, but just the act of getting up out of bed and finding something will keep you awake longer. You might even want to keep food under your bed, but don’t go on random binges just because your food’s nearby.
-Buy a fan (or two) for your dorm room. Make sure you have both warm pajamas and something that will keep you cool.
-Only drink lots of caffeine at nighttime if you don’t mind staying up later, or if you know it won’t affect you. Otherwise, obstain from drinking caffeinated beverages at dinnertime or later.
-Only take a nap if it’s necessary, like if you recently pulled an all-nighter. But, nonetheless, you should try to space it out; make sure you have some “awake time” in-between your nap and regular sleep.
-Make sure you have some type of medicine that can help you fall asleep in your room, or at least in your house.
-Before you get into bed, try to clear all those worrisome thoughts of your head. That way, you can concentrate on other things when trying to fall asleep.