How to reset your sleep schedule after exam week

sleep disorders

As finals week is over, it’s time to relax and enjoy your life again. No matter how high you have scored, you have worked hard, and now you deserve to rest more than anyone else. To make the most of your free time, you decide to stay in and indulge yourself. You watch your favorite movie with a delicious pizza or Chinese food, but then something terrible happens. You can’t fall asleep! After a week of emergency studying, you toss and turn all night, unable to turn your brain off so that you can start dreaming again. Then in the morning, your body naturally decides to put itself to sleep, no matter what plans you have for the day. 

This nasty situation happens to many students after a busy exam week, and not only to them. According to research, 30% of the US adults suffer from insomnia and 10% have been living with chronic insomnia for years. About 38% report unintentionally falling asleep during the daytime. Of course, if someone fails to get enough sleep at night, sleep insomnia may be the reason behind it. As a student, you are most likely to have your circadian rhythms disturbed by exam stress and constant night activity. However, you need not worry. You can repair your sleep clock even if it looks broken at the moment. Here is what you can do about it.

Create a sleep schedule

Are you wondering how to reset your sleep cycle? Sticking to a schedule is the first thing you should do. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. It’s okay if you cannot finish your day by 10 PM. Just try to do it before midnight and make it a habit. The key is to not stay active when your brain is expected to rest. If you create the framework for your circadian clock, your body will soon make you feel sleepy when you need it. Following a scheduled sleep routine is essential if you want to be active and full of energy during the daytime. 

Give up energy drinks 

Many students adore coffee and other sweetened stimulants, especially during college finals week, but these tasty drinks can severely interfere with your sleep cycle. Even if you are not a heavy coffee drinker, you might have had it several nights in a row before exams. As you expect to finally get some sleep at night, limit your tea and coffee intake to 1-2 cups a day. Also, drink it in the morning or any time before 3 PM. Caffeine usually kicks in after several hours. So avoid insomnia by drinking coffee in the afternoon. 

eating at night

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Quit eating before bedtime

The impact of various foods on our sleep habits is not as obvious as that of caffeine. However, it can be hard for you to fall asleep with a full stomach. Your body is actively digesting food, especially fatty products, so it naturally cannot cool down and snooze. Have dinner at least an hour before you go to bed. Also, try not to eat too many fatty food items or carbohydrates. Sweet food can make you hungry fast, so you will be unable to fall asleep because of that. Make the last meal of your day the lightest. Doing so will help your body to store energy and recover from daily stress faster. 

Revise your exercise time

Coming across popular tips on how to go to sleep fast, you will see the recommendation not to do sports in the evening. Just like coffee or energy drinks, exercise is a stimulant for your body. If you choose to jog, go to a gym, or dance at night, you will need 2 to 4 extra hours to unwind. Try to play sports at least before 6 PM. Then you will have enough time to cool down and relax before going to sleep. 

Stop using electronics when going to bed

You can get easily excited when reading news on the web or texting in bed. Besides, the light from electronic devices can disturb your inner clock and prevent the production of melatonin—the substance that makes us feel sleepy. Our body reacts to light in trying to figure out whether it’s time to go to sleep or to wake up. Not to disturb this function, switch your screens to night mode in the evening. Also, try not to use your cell phone when going to bed. 

screen time

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Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool

At night, our body cools down in sleep. The temperature drops for a few hours and rises back in the morning. If it’s too hot in your bedroom, falling asleep can be almost impossible for your body. Keep your room well-aired and comfortably cool at night. This will help your body to drop its temperature, and you will fall asleep faster. Also, make sure it’s really dark in your bedroom. Light is a natural signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. Wear an eye-mask if your bedroom is not pitch-dark. 

Do not try too hard to fall asleep

Some people easily get anxious about disturbed sleep and related health issues. Lying in bed and forcing yourself to fall asleep is one of the most stressful and idle things you can do. If this happens to you, remember that lack of sleep is a temporary problem. You were stressed out during your exam week, and so your inability to fall asleep is not related to insomnia in this case. Try staying positive and thinking of something pleasant. Your sleep will get back to normal over time. 

When thinking about how to reset sleep schedule, you need to pay attention to your daily habits first. You may get incredible results merely by doing some of your routines, such as exercising or drinking coffee in the morning. Also, take care that the climate in your bedroom is favorable to sleeping. Of course, also stay positive about your health integrity. All people get stressed sometimes, but they also recover fast. As your exams are over, you will soon get your precious night sleep back. 

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Published by
Rebecca Jenkins
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Rebecca has been a freelance writer since 2010. She travels often and is constantly learning something new. Also, Rebecca is a true enthusiast of social sciences, especially of psychology. She gladly shares her experience of enjoying life and finding inspiration across the US and abroad.