When the school year ends, after a year of staying up late to finish homework, it can be hard to get back on a normal schedule of actually sleeping at night.  It will take time to get yourself back onto a normal sleep schedule but there are a few things that you can do, and a few things you can try to avoid, that can help.

The first step to getting your sleep schedule back on track is to decide on a time that you’d like to be asleep by each night. It may sound childish to set yourself a bed time but it can give you a guideline of when to start winding down for the night. Once your body is in the habit of going to sleep at two or three in the morning it might be difficult, at first, to actually fall asleep at a time like 10 or 11 at night. A good idea might be to start by going to bed an hour earlier than usual, then another hour and working your way to the desired time over the course of a few days.  It can also be a good idea to have a routine before you go to sleep to help you wind down and relax so that falling asleep will be less of a challenge.

One thing to avoid if you’re trying to get your sleep schedule back to normal is drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee, sodas and energy drinks late in the evening. During the school year these drinks often become a part of a student’s nightly diet to keep them awake enough to finish work but when school ends and late nights cease to be a necessity it’s best to try and avoid these things, particularly energy drinks, in the evening because they will make getting to sleep more difficult than it should be. A better choice of before bed beverages would be a hot cup of tea (or iced tea if you prefer).  Herbal or green teas are a good option because they lack the caffeine content of black teas (like Earl Grey blends, etc.) and many come in blends uniquely made to be relaxing.  Tazo teas have a variety of these kinds of blends and can be found at most Starbucks locations as well as on starbuckstore.com.

One thing that almost every college student enjoys that can also cause problems when trying to get your sleep schedule back on track is taking naps during the day. It’s happened to probably every student at some point or another. Classes are finished and it seems like a good idea to close your eyes for a few minutes but then when you wake up it’s been hours and not only do you have to stay up late to finish the work you need to do but you couldn’t sleep even if you wanted to because of the nap you took.  The same thing can happen even after school ends if you aren’t careful. Naps aren’t a bad thing but they can mess with your sleep schedule if they happen too late in the afternoon or if they’re too long.

For some, getting their sleep schedule back on track after the school year ends is a necessity for being able to survive working over the summer while for others, when the school year ends it may be tempting to stay up all night just because you can. It’s important to remember that just because late nights with very little sleep sometimes can become a necessary evil during the school year doesn’t mean that it’s healthy.

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About Tori McDougald