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September 22, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Sleep Management

When you are stressed or under pressure your sleep can be affected. About this time of year students can begin to go short of a few Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s with the mounting studyload and exam preparation ahead. Concentration, study, energy, mood and general wellbeing can all benefit from good sleep. The following tips may help.

Try to keep to the regular sleep routine that works best for you. Clear your mind before bed by preparing a plan for the next day or writing down things you want to remember – or get off your mind. Take some time before sleep to relax – do anything that winds you down i.e. quiet music, bath, warm drink, relaxation tapes, herbal tea.

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sweets. Avoid excess alcohol. Where possible resolve or deal with the stressors. Create a quiet, comfortable, relaxing environment. Avoid compensating for lost sleep at other times such as during the day. If you wake early or have trouble getting to sleep, try to focus on being still, relaxed and rested, or get up, do something to distract yourself briefly, then go back to bed – stressing about being awake can make it worse! If sleeplessness persists and is debilitating, consult your doctor or health professional

The Counselling Service wishes you ‘well’ with your studies.

Techniques to try

These can help with relaxation, distraction from persistent thoughts and sleep inducement and are most effective when practised regularly.

BREATHING EXERCISE (this can be done almost anywhere anytime) – Lie or sit in a comfortable position. Slowly, fully and gently breathe in through your nose from the bottom of your abdomen. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then slowly, fully and gently breathe out to the bottom of your abdomen and hold your breath for a few seconds. Repeat this at least 10 times. SLEEP ENHANCEMENT – Lie on your back in a relaxed position with your head at the same level or lower than your body with eyes shut. Inhale softly. Do not breathe too deeply. Exhale all air. Repeat 3 times. After 3rd breath, exhale all air and stay like this for as long as possible without inhaling further. Then breathe gently three times and delay breathing again at the end of the third exhalation. Repeat this cycle 5-8 times (Choliz,1993). GUIDED IMAGERY – Lie or sit in a comfortable place, free of distractions. Think of a place that you have experienced as special or particularly meaningful to you. Imagine that you are in that place. Picture it fully in your mind, use your senses to really experience that place e.g. sounds, smells, temperature, colours, tastes, sensations. Spend a few minutes doing this. If you get distracted gently bring yourself back to the image. MUSCLE TENSION/RELEASE – Deliberately clench or tighten muscles progressively in parts of your body that experience tension e.g. neck, shoulders, hands, face. Hold the tension for a few seconds as tightly as you can and then release and relax. Repeat this a few times. Feel the difference?

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