Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

New Year, New Me: resetting my sleep schedule

While some people may follow strict evening and morning routines, I have never been consistent in my sleeping schedule. Prior to the pandemic I also had a very flexible sleeping pattern as I’d often stay up playing games, watching movies or reading. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons for my lack of energy and perhaps how easily distracted I’d become during my exam period.

When the UK had its first wave of coronavirus cases, I had already fled university and was living at home for the rest of my first year. The first lockdown was nearly a year ago and still feels as though it was only a month ago. Throughout the first lockdown, I filled most of my time with gaming, anime, and movies. It even got to the stage where I set myself a challenge of watching five movies a day which clearly took up a lot of the day.

It can be hard to want to get out of bed especially when it’s dark and cold in the mornings

Slowly I fell into a cycle where I was almost entirely nocturnal. My mum would be preparing for her morning jog while I was doing my night-time skincare routine. Once I moved back to university, I knew I had to sort myself out for the term time, but I found myself still slacking or just avoiding fixing my sleep schedule. I was attending all my seminars and live sessions, but I did a lot of the early sessions in bed.

Of course, my sleeping pattern during term one wasn’t nearly as atrocious as it was during the quarantine period, but nor was it particularly good. I was probably awake from about 10 am – 3 am or perhaps later, so I wasn’t getting consistent sleep. Recently I’ve taken it upon myself to start getting up earlier, not only because of studying but also to improve my overall day.

The process of repairing my sleep schedule to an adult-ish workday has been gradual. Going home for Christmas made a big difference in my routine, as I was often up watching movies or with my family. Since returning I have taken it slow and begun waking up earlier each week. Sometimes the problem isn’t waking up, but actually getting up. It can be hard to want to get out of bed especially when it’s dark and cold in the mornings, but I am working on this.

I’ve found myself sleeping easier and feeling overall less anxious about university

As of late, I’ve been trying to finish my day by 7 pm. I do all my work in the daytime, and I refuse to do anymore after dinner. Essay-season is nearing so whether or not this remains in my routine will be challenged but as for now, it works very well for creating an ordered environment. As students we often don’t have a separate workspace and bedroom and especially since the lockdown prohibits study spaces, it works out if you allocate time.

I used to be a night and evening worker, where I’d often end up writing bulks of my essays late at night then sleeping early in the morning just to wake up as exhausted as the day before. Doing all my work during the day has allowed me to use my evenings to unwind and relax a bit rather than spending both day and night thinking about work. Since switching to this routine, I’ve found myself sleeping easier and feeling overall less anxious about university.

Studying is obviously what I came to university for, but it isn’t my entire personality

Although it may work for some people, I find that having hours to unwind is what I need to do for myself. Spending the evening watching a movie, playing a game, or even just cooking a nice meal is always more rewarding to me than filling the time with lectures or reading. Having allocated time in the day for my own hobbies and interests somewhat motivates me to do the work properly during the day so that I can reap the benefits of my reward to myself.

It is very important to take time just for your interests otherwise, like me, you might end up feeling drained of everything. Studying is obviously what I came to university for, but it isn’t my entire personality. Fixing my sleep schedule to a routine that is healthy and works for me has allowed for a lot more freedom and flexibility with my time. I stress the importance of a healthy sleeping routine that worked for you individually.

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