What is ‘Sleep Hygiene’?

WWS-Insomnia

A basic sleep hygiene list might look something like this:

  • Limit your caffeine intake, and don’t have any after 3 or so in the afternoon
  • Set times to go to sleep and wake up
  • No naps, not even 20 minute power naps
  • Don’t be in or near your bed for anything except sleeping
  • Try meditation, yoga, or breathing techniques
  • Try harder to relax, but don’t try too hard to sleep

Sleep hygiene is a set of rules you’re supposed to follow in order to get good sleep. Most people have the luxury of not caring too much about it, because when their brain and body get tired they can go to bed and recharge. Following these rules is important even for perfectly healthy individuals, but mandatory for those of us who suffer from sleep disorders.

There are different kinds of insomnia: not being able to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep, and not being able to have restful sleep. I’m unlucky enough to have all three. I’m not going to lie, insomnia is incredibly difficult to live with. I almost never wake up feeling rested, which can make it difficult to start my day with a positive outlook. I get incredibly sleepy at inopportune times, and I’ve spent too many hours of my life staring at a dark ceiling. I’ve fallen into bed, completely worn out, only to find myself unable to get any of the rest I so desperately need.

One of the more frustrating things, however, is that people don’t seem to understand insomnia. Sure, most people have had a sleepless night or two at least once in their lives, but I’ve run into a lot of people who don’t understand what it means to suffer from it in the long term. Inevitably, when someone asks how I am, tired will be a part of that. People joke about how being tired is just part of their personality now, and I get it, a lot of people are sleep deprived in college. But for me, the problem isn’t temporary – I’ve been sleep deprived for as long as I can remember.

A lot of people think that not being able to sleep is somehow glamorous, like it’s my hidden superpower. While it is easier for me to pull an all-nighter, this isn’t by choice, and it isn’t a good thing – no one should be awake for more than a day. Going without sleep has huge negative impacts on your brain, and I am not immune to these – I’m just more accustomed to them.

As far as doing work, that thing that most people spend most of their day on, whether it’s academic work or their job, when you’re sleep deprived it can be near impossible to read, much less create anything decent. Yet somehow people think that because I spend less of my time asleep, then I must spend that time being productive. In reality, a lot of that time is spent just trying to wish myself to sleep. Some days, completing my work is like trying to run a marathon, except once I’ve reached the end, there’s no reward or rest.

The constant bags under my eyes are unpleasant. It’s incredibly difficult to wade through a fog of lethargy and exhaustion day after day. But honestly, what tires me out the most is the lack of sympathy. Whether it’s because of finals or an involuntary mental blockade, if your friends are tired be kind to them. Get the rest you need, and if you need some tips on how to sleep better, I’ve got you covered.

See you soon,

Hannah

[Picture Link: http://bit.ly/2o34uG8]

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