Siow Lee Xian
Getting Your Sleep Schedule Back
For most of us, the next semester’s going to be completely from home. However, we still can’t escape that horror of 8am classes. Or maybe your day now starts at 2pm, but your first class is at 12.
Whatever the reason, many of us have probably screwed ourselves over by completely destroying our circadian rhythm ever since Circuit Breaker began.
Fear not! Here are three tips that will help get your sleep schedule back. And no, it does not include a paragraph to berate you for using your phone before you sleep.
But before I begin, a little disclaimer from me: these are things that I’ve turned to during my sleepless nights that I’ve found to have helped me. They’re not really tips I’ve seen elsewhere before so I hope these tips help you too!
Tip 1: Listen to podcasts or audiobooks
Yup, this first tip just told you to use your phone until the very moment you fall asleep.
Of course, most people give tips like listening to music or ambient sounds to help you fall asleep. But I find that oftentimes, this gives me the perfect background noise for the cogs in my head to start whirring and going a mile a minute thinking about things that really don’t matter. Like that one time when I was 10 and I waved to someone I didn’t know thinking she was waving at me—
Listening to podcasts or audiobooks gives you something to pay attention to, thus preventing your thoughts from wandering. Ever seen those storytime videos on YouTube but could never justify to yourself why you should spend 45 minutes watching a floating head talk about their life? Download a browser that lets you play YouTube videos in the background so you can listen to their stories without feeling the guilt of watching someone talk for three quarters of an hour.
I find that listening to Reddit readings help the best. There are so many stories on Reddit threads like r/AskReddit, r/ProRevenge, r/TIFU, r/EntitledParents… I think you know my preferences by now. But I digress. There are so many interesting stories on Reddit but we often don’t have the time to either read it all, or watch videos that have curated content from all these subreddits. So I found the best way was to listen to it as I was falling asleep. Not only do I get to hear these stories, I don’t feel guilty for spending my time listening to them! I search for these podcasts on Spotify and add a sleep timer to it.
Afterall, even if it takes you hours to fall asleep, at least you spent that time learning something new, listening to someone else’s story, or listening to an audiobook instead of spending three hours with your thoughts or the deafening silence of the night.
Tip 2: Count sheep
Yes, it sounds stupid, I know. But trust me, it really helps!
You don’t literally have to count “One sheep, two sheep…” (although if you want to, no one’s stopping you). You just have to count from one to a thousand.
Hear me out—as daunting as this might seem, this method of counting really helped me fall asleep back in my junior college days. Much like the previous tip, it gives your mind something to do instead of beginning the perilous journey of late night thoughts.
For those who often face the dilemma of sleeping and spending more time on social media or games, this can be a way to negotiate with yourself—tell yourself that if you’re still awake after counting to a thousand, you can spend some time on your phone. If you fall asleep, good job! If you don’t, at least you’ve tried. After a while, always go back to counting. Keep trying to get yourself to fall asleep while satisfying that nagging urge to check your phone.
However, remember that this shouldn’t be a challenge. Don’t challenge yourself to stay awake until after you hit a thousand to continue using your phone. I usually use it as a way to comfort myself—it’s not that I refuse to sleep, but that I can’t really fall asleep now so it should be fine if I use my phone for a little bit.
Of course, please do not start playing action games or watching stimulating videos every time you fail to fall asleep after a thousand. Try reading or playing mundane, brainless—yet entertaining—games to coax your mind into relaxation and hopefully sleep.
Tip 3: Don’t check the time
This is probably the most well-known of the three. But it’s simple—don’t obsess over what time it is.
Oh, it’s 3 a.m. I need to be awake at seven. If I sleep now, I’ll get four hours of sleep. That should be enough, right?
I can’t sleep! What time is it now? 3:45? I’m only left with three hours and 15 minutes!
Who else has experienced this before? I find that constantly checking the time puts unnecessary stress on someone, especially when they have an early morning appointment (or class) the next day.
It may be tempting to check the time and calculate the hours of sleep you’ll have but let’s be honest, what good does that do? What if you check the time and realise you only have two hours of sleep left? Would that help you fall asleep faster? Or stress you out knowing that if you fell asleep now, you might not wake up on time? Make it a conscious effort not to look at the clock when you can’t fall asleep.
If you’re someone who’s really concerned about the number of hours they’ve slept, you can take a screenshot of your phone—I’m sure we don’t need to look at our phone to do this—periodically until you fall asleep and check the time the next morning when you’ve woken up.
Whether these tips help you or not, or if it takes you a longer time to get used to sleeping and waking up earlier, please remember that you can’t undo the past few months’ or years’ bad habits in a few weeks. Keep trying and look out for progress, no matter how small it may seem.
With that, good luck with your sleep schedule and the upcoming semester!