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I completely understand the pressure every law student has to endure just to prepare for recitations (recits), quizzes, and exams. Not to mention, they are doomed to write a gazillion case digests for the rest of their stay in law school.
I’m a working law student. I know exactly how stressful and awful it is.
When you have so many deadlines to meet ahead of you, you tend to spend more sleepless nights accomplishing as many task as you could. This is true even if these deadlines are not yet due in the next month or so because in law school, you always want to get ahead of your game.
However, whenever you do this, you compromise your law school bedtime routine and sleeping pattern. This results to sleep deprivation in the long run, which can jeopardize not just your productivity but also your health and well-being.
When you deliberately get past your normal bedtime routine, you tend to sleep later than usual, resulting to a decrease in the number of hours of sleep your body needs to get energized for the next day. Worse, your sleep-wake cycle becomes too erratic to handle. This can result to sleep deprivation, which is known to wreak havoc on people’s life and well-being.
As someone who used to experience all these, I know how stressful and worrisome it can be. Unfortunately, it was only after weeks of intermittent sickness, and exhaustion of all my allowable law school absences, that I finally came to my senses.
By then, I knew I had to do something about my law school bedtime routine!
8 Ways to Fall Asleep Easily and Achieve a Consistent Law School Bedtime Routine
If you are a a law student, or any other student or professional, who is struggling to normalize his law school bedtime routine or body clock, you may want to try the methods that helped me doze off easily, wake up early, and become more productive throughout the day:
Tip # 1 — Increase your physical activity
Achieving normal law school bedtime routine or sleeping patterns starts from being able to sleep easily at night. Recent studies suggest that a person can sleep easily and better at night when he gets at least 150 minutes of exercise or physical activity a week. That is only more or less 20 minutes per day; easy!
This only goes to show that when we maintain an active lifestyle, we don’t just make our heart and muscles happy; we become well-rested too after.
When I switched to doing freelance work, I didn’t have much opportunity to exercise or do brisk walking. I only go to class like twice or thrice a week (mostly during weekends) and spend the majority of my week at home. When I’m in my room, I would spend the rest of the day sitting for an average of eight hours or so, meeting article deadlines for clients and studying law thereafter.
This was way different when I was still doing office work, wherein I spend the rest of the week walking and commuting. So, it didn’t come as surprise when my insomnia became worse during my job switch.
Tip # 2 — Stay away from coffee hours before bedtime
As one of my previous law professors said, “Sleep is a waste of time”. Admittedly, law students, like me, would rather be sleep deprived than risk a night without completing case readings or reading assignments. So, they gotta do what they have to do: caffeine binge!
Unfortunately, law students can become too dependent to caffeine just to be able to function properly throughout the day. Despite of the negative effects from excessive intake of caffeine, particularly on their law school bedtime routine, law students couldn’t care less.
Studies reveal that caffeine negatively affects a person’s sleep. Accordingly, experts recommend that we must stop drinking coffee at around 2:00 PM or 6 to 8 hours before hitting the sack. And since our body gets rid most of the caffeine we ingested only after six (6) hours from intake, that pretty much makes sense.
Also, law students should avoid drinking coffee before bedtime in order to prevent it from destroying their internal circadian rhythm or “body clock. Our body clock has something to do with our sleep-wake cycles, which determines when we doze off or wake up. According to Professor Kenneth Wright, Jr. of the Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, “[still], it seems likely that coffee at night ‘isn’t just keeping [us] awake’, [i]t’s also pushing [our] [internal] clock later so [we] want to go to sleep later.”
Prof. Wright, Jr.’s team gave their study participants double espresso or a medium cup of coffee in a research conducted to determine the effects of caffeine to a human’s body clock. Consequently, Prof. Wright’s team later found that such small amount of caffeine delayed their participants’ sleep by 40 minutes.
Before I knew all these caffeine information, life taught me the hard way. I had this bad habit of drinking a cup of black coffee at 11:00 PM. So, considering the foregoing scientific findings, you can only imagine what time the next day I would usually fall asleep…
Tip # 3 — Dim or turn-off the lights
When you are exposed to light, in any degree of brightness, your melatonin secretion is affected. Melatonin is a hormone affecting our circadian or body clocks, which in turn influences our ability to fall asleep. Hence, another way to sleep easily, so you can achieve a consistent law school bedtime routine, is by controlling your bedroom lights.
Since I always feel like I’m drowning when it’s dark, or when I know that my surroundings are dark (I know, it’s weird…), I use the eye mask my boyfriend, Jumel, got me for Christmas to cover my eyes. It actually works wonders, especially if I don’t want to be distracted even by the dim light coming from my lamp shade.
Tip # 4 — Keep your phone and other electronic device away during bedtime
We both know that our mobile phones and gadgets make our sleep and law school bedtime routine miserable. We just wouldn’t admit it.
Mobile phones emit blue light. This light contains blue wavelengths, which are considered useful during daytime because they have been reported to boost attention, reaction times, and mood.
Unfortunately, these same benefits are also the ones that could disrupt a good night’s sleep. Research shows that our mobile devices’ blue light worsens melatonin suppression, making it harder for us to fall asleep when we use them than when we are exposed to ordinary light.
In addition, mobile phones in general are sources of distraction. Unless you preset yours to silent mode, they will constantly notify you with new emails, new facebook reactions and comments, and restored lives in Candy Crush. When these happen, you run the risk of either interrupting your sleep or delaying it.
Tip #5 — Adjust your bedroom’s temperature, or freshen up before hitting the sack
Doctors suggest that good sleep is achieved when a certain temperature is maintained. This is the set point which makes humans fall asleep easier and get a meaningful sleep. It is found that we should set our thermostat more or less 20 degrees Celsius (or 68 degrees Fahrenheit) for great results.
If you can be precise and achieve this using your air-conditioning system, well then, good for you. However, if you’re like me who doesn’t have an AC in her bedroom, you got to be more creative.
What I would normally do to feel more comfortable at bedtime is to hit the shower thirty minutes before sleeping. This allows me enough time to dry my hair and do a simple skin routine before hitting the sack.
Also, if it is safe to be done at night, you may open your bedroom’s window to allow fresh air to enter and circulate inside.
Tip # 6 — Set a particular time when to hit the sack
Now, here’s the most neglected part. What most of us don’t realize is that we can actually control (to some extent) how and when are we going to sleep. Like any other habit, a specific hour for bedtime may be learned over time of repeated practice.
It is always up to you how to go about it. Like in my case, I set my sleeping time at exactly 12:00 midnight. I can’t really sleep earlier than that because of the work load and law school tasks I have to accomplish.
Setting a specific time for sleep is a great way for me to nudge my body to adopt a law school bedtime routine. I got accustomed to my 12:00 midnight bedtime eventually, so much so that I feel sleepy whenever the clock strikes twelve. True story!
Tip # 7 — Try using essential oils and vita flex points massages
Recently, I took interest with essential oils, particularly on its healing benefits. In one of my previous posts, I actually discussed how some essential oil concoctions that I bought from an online seller had helped me focus on my readings and get better sleep.
Honestly, I’m still getting the hang of it so I cannot really suggest a particular essential oil combination to try for sleep. But if you wish, I found a great guide on essential oils for sleep here.
Most of the time, I’ll apply the oil on the palm of my hands, rub them against each other, and sniff the aroma. But later, the online seller told me to look for information about accupressure, which makes essential oil application for sleep even more effective. Luckily, I managed to learn how to use essential oils in performing accupressure on myself.
Wait… What’s accupressure?
Accupressure is among the Asian bodywork therapies originating from traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the application of pressure on what are known as body “accupoints”.
These pressure points, also called “vita flex points”, were believed to be invisible vital energy (or ch’i) channels, and which are associated to a particular organ or group of organs. Accupressure practitioners use these points to target a specific body part, organ, or organ system to treat or alleviate symptoms and illnesses.
To allow me to understand the process better, this video helped me a lot. I randomly browsed through Youtube and I couldn’t be happier that I found this easy-to-understand video guide to sleep vitaflex points. This video teaches you some massage techniques and ways to properly target the accupressure points that affect sleep.
Personally, I massage my wrists, as instructed below, for one minute for both hands. Now, I don’t get worried anymore because I’d always fall asleep after or even while performing this massage.
Tip # 8 — Get rid of bedroom noises
Lastly, complete your fall-asleep-easily regimen by getting rid or minimizing room or ambient noise. Background noises can distract us at bedtime as much as our mobile phones do.
Fortunately, my air cooler creates this odd yet buffering sound that kind of eliminates all noises within our house. It has helped me sleep better ever since my Dad got me one. Prior to owning my cooler, I would normally just plug in my ear buds and I’m sure to set out to dreamland in no time.
Feel free to give these trips a try!
With all the stresses of law school and work (for working students like me), I know how agonizing falling asleep can be for some students. Thus, I hope you find the methods I shared here useful.
If you have other tips in mind, feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.