Guest Blog: The Sleep Geek – Why Sleep Is Important For Revision
Why Sleep Is Important To Revision
Although scientists don’t know exactly why we sleep it is known that one of its functions is for us to remember information we have learnt during the day. So, if you cram the night before an exam and do not get any sleep you will remember nothing! Good sleep also helps keep our stress levels down. Your body produces adrenaline to compensate for a lack of sleep, and too much adrenaline is bad for your health.
How To Ensure You Get Great Sleep During Revision Time
- Make sure you are going to bed at the right time for you. Teenager’s sleep cycles start and finish later than other age groups so most teenager should be going to bed sometime between 10.30 and 12. If you do not fall asleep within half an hour of going to sleep you are going to bed too early or are too stressed to sleep. If this happens get up and start your wind down routine again.
- Stick to a routine. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. I find waking up with natural light is better than waking with an alarm, a sunshine alarm clock could really help you wake up better.
- Have breakfast within half an hour of waking up, this will help your digestive system start working and will mean you don’t crave sugar and caffeine all day.
- Try and keep caffeine to a minimum and don’t drink it after 3 ‘o’clock. Caffeine is not only found in coffee, but also teas, soft drinks and energy drinks
- Drink water-When I am doing my sleep practitioner work one of the most common problems we solve is that people do not stay hydrated enough. Don’t gulp the water though, drink little and often.
- Eat healthy and stay away from sugar-Although it can be tempting to eat junk food and overload on sugar to help keep you awake, a healthy diet including lots of fruit and veg which will help you sleep better. Sugar leads to a rush, and then a crash which means you will crave sugar. It then becomes a cycle of sugar addiction!
- Don’t exercise too close to Bedtime-Exercise causes you to produce adrenaline and if you try to go to sleep straight after you finish a work out you can end up getting no or very poor sleep. Leave at least three hours from finishing exercising to going to bed.
- As you get close to bedtime reduce the amount of time you spend on blue screen devices. These include phones, tablets, computers and televisions. The blue light tells your body that it is still day time and stops the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you sleep. You can get protectors that take out the blue light from your screen, I use one from a company called Ocushield. Think about what you do in this hour before bed. You want to partake in activities that reduce your heart rate, so think about what relaxes you.
- If you are hungry have a snack rich in tryptophan and including a complex carbohydrate. I would recommend peanut butter on granary toast.
- Wind down before bed-There are some relaxation techniques below!
- Bath or showers are great. They help you relax and they are also an indicator to your body that it is time for sleep. A bath or shower raises your body temperature and when you get out your temperature drops. This drop in temperature indicates to your body that it is time to start producing melatonin.
- Watch something funny-Comedy is great. It relaxes us and produces endorphin’s which help in the production of melatonin.
- 4-7-8-This technique has had a lot of coverage in the papers recently. You lie in bed and breathe out for 4 seconds. You then breathe in for 7 and hold that breathe for 8 seconds.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 7
- Hold your breath for a count of 8
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 4
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
The most important part of this process is holding your breath for eight seconds. This is because keeping the breath in will allow oxygen to fill your lungs and then circulate throughout the body. It is this that causes your body to relax.
Hope this helps!!!