Friday, April 22, 2016

My top tips for Insomnia

As a tutor, I'm the first port of call for students at University College Roosevelt who struggle with personal problems and health issues. Over the years, the number of my students who report struggling with insomnia has grown exponentially. Here are the top tips I share with students who struggle with sleeping - all of these learned after struggling with sleep myself for some time:

No coffee after 14.00. Really!

No looking at computer screens, smartphones, tablets, after 19.00. This makes a big difference. If you really have to work in the evening, install f.lux on your computer: This filters out the blue light, which blocks melatonine release. You don’t want blue light in the evenings! If you have an iphone and/or ipad, make sure you update it to iOS 9.3: this comes with a function called 'night shift' which does the same as f.lux. Turn it on, also on your phone!

Take magnesium supplements. I take 200mg before going to bed. This is a wellknown sleeping aid. 

Read fiction for an hour before going to bed. No non-fiction, fiction. Works for me!

Have very regular sleep and wake times. Try to go to bed roughly at the same time each day and get up at the same time. This is difficult as a student, I know. Alcohol and parties really mess up your sleep rhythm. So limit that, if not abstain from it, until things go better. 

Organize yourself well so your mind is not so restless. My own system for this is online at This really, really helps me to have a more quiet mind.

Meditation works for some people. I recommend the free ‘headspace’ app for this, if you have no experience with it. The first ten days are free, after that a subscription is necessary. I know a lot of people who found it motivating to have the app as a kind of ‘guide’. Even if it’s just ten minutes in the evening, it can have a beneficial effect. Taking a course on mindfulness could also be an idea, if you are interested in this sort of thing.


If none of that works, you can also experiment with sleep restriction:

If none of this helps, do go and see your student councilor. Sleeping poorly is detrimental to your health and means you will not perform to the best of your ability. Take it serious!

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