With midterm season right around the corner, I’ve found myself extremely stressed as of late. As my list of things to do grows, I feel less inclined to take breaks throughout the day. Instead of taking a short nap or watching a quick show to relax, the voice in my head tells me to continue to push through and get another thing checked off my list. In reality, this method doesn’t work, and I end up completing tasks slower because I never gave myself the mental break I needed. Then, when it comes to sleeping, even if I’m exhausted, my brain is wide awake with thoughts spinning through my head about what I want to get done the next day. Here are some of my favorite ways to de-stress and relax at night before bed that allow me to actually sleep.
Watch an old movie with popcorn and a drink of choice
I’m not sure what pops in your head when you hear “old movie.” Is it “Titanic” (1997) or “The Notebook” (2004)? Because to me, those aren’t that old. I’m talking movies from the 1960s-1990s, such as “Barefoot in the Park” (1967), “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969), “The Outsiders” (1983) and “The Breakfast Club” (1985) — all of which still aren’t considered old in a lot of people’s playbooks. I find watching an old movie, or even a movie I’ve watched before, to be relaxing and fun. Then, I go to bed dreaming about the movie instead of thinking about school or work.
Enjoy a cup of tea and a book
With all the mandatory readings we’re assigned in classes, it’s hard to think about reading a book for pleasure — that is, without pulling out your highlighter and writing notes in the margins. But about a month ago, I started reading a few chapters of a book every night for about an hour, and I was able to fall asleep right when I put the book down. Reading a book takes my mind off my life and gives me the chance to indulge in someone else’s world. I’m able to fall asleep quickly right after because I’m distracted by the plot of the book rather than thinking about my to-do list. Add a cup of hot chamomile tea and queue the timer because you’ll start rubbing your eyes and yawning in no time.
This one is a bit odd because people usually like to exercise in the morning or afternoon. I’m not talking about doing a full-blown workout, just 15 minutes of core exercises and maybe 10 minutes of meditation or yoga — or a combination of activities that suits you. By working out, you’re increasing your core body temperature, which can make you feel sleepy. Also, the regular benefits of exercise promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety still apply and will allow you to have a restful night’s sleep.
Journal or write
Whether you’re someone who likes to write about your day to help you process everything that happened or whether you want to imagine your own story about the most random things, writing before bed is definitely something I suggest. I usually do both — I begin write about something that happened, but it ends up becoming a full-blown fiction story with monsters and angels sporadically involved. Regardless, it’s the process of writing itself that calms me down at night because my brain is distracted, and this activity helps me organize my thoughts so that I can sleep peacefully.
Let’s all start getting 8-9 hours of sleep by using any of the activities above, or whatever works for you. Let’s ditch eye bags for … well, no eye bags, and let’s treat our bodies nicely by giving them proper rest and relaxation. Whether you’re watching a movie, reading, exercising or journaling, I wish you the best of luck; may you be overcome with sleepiness.