50 Sleep Hacks for Students,
Parents, and Working Professionals
5/27/2020 | Casper Editorial Team
Whatever profession you have or walk of life you come from, many can relate to the struggle of getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, 68% of Americans struggle to sleep at least once a week and 50 to 70 million US adults have a sleep disorder.
From anxiety brought on by the news to the stress of our everyday lives, it can be hard to shut off our minds and unwind before bed. Luckily, there are lots of sleep hacks — for students, parents, working professionals, and everyone in between — that can help you doze off into dreamland.
Sleep Hacks for Students
Being a student is stressful. Not only do you have to worry about exams and homework, but the social aspect of school can take a toll on your sleep and mental health. If you find that you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest, test out the sleep hacks for students below.
1. Don’t do homework in bed: A lot of students are stuck in tiny dorm rooms or apartments where the only place to do homework is in their bed. However, it’s important to keep your homework and sleep space separate. Head to the library or study at your dining room table. Doing homework in bed can cause your brain to start to associate the bedroom with school — which can increase sleep anxiety.
2. Set a reminder to go to bed: Sometimes we get wrapped up in a TV show or a good book and don’t find ourselves falling asleep until past midnight. To keep yourself on track, set a reminder to go to bed 30 minutes before actual bedtime. This allows you to wrap up whatever you were working on so you can start to unwind for a good night’s rest.
3. Avoid intense TV shows right before bedtime: Whether you’re a true crime fanatic or a big fan of thrillers, intense TV shows and movies can speed up your heart rate and make it harder for you to fall asleep. Stick to something a little more light-hearted before bed and save the crime documentaries for earlier in the evening.
4. Wear earplugs to block noise: Nocturnal noise disturbances can impair your ability to fall and stay asleep. If you’re attending school in the city or are cooped up with several loud roommates, use earplugs to help block any unwanted noise.
5. Avoid the late-night munchies: Whether you’re up late studying or coming home from a night out with friends, it can be tempting to head to the pantry and pick up a pack of Oreos. However, late-night snacks can result in insomnia or weight gain. Stick to foods that help you sleep before bed or brew yourself a nice cup of tea.
6. Don’t snooze your alarm: That 7:00 a.m. class can feel brutal at times, but the more you snooze your alarm the harder it becomes to wake up. Snoozing can throw off your body’s internal clock — making you feel groggy throughout the day. Skip the snooze and get up right away. The initial tiredness you feel will fade and you’ll have a more productive day.
7. Create a sleep reward for yourself in the morning: If you struggle to wake up, make waking up in the morning a reward. It can be anything from a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito to a morning walk or a good book. Having something to look forward to in the morning can make waking up easier and maybe even pleasurable.
8. Exercise 20–30 mins a day: You don’t have to hit the gym for an hour every day, but getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity can decrease the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night. Go for a walk in the morning or do a workout with friends — having a workout buddy to keep you accountable can make things easier.
9. Eat a banana before bed: Bananas are a great source of tryptophan, magnesium, and potassium — properties that regulate blood pressure and help you get a good night’s sleep. Next time you reach for a snack before bed, grab a banana instead.
10. Keep your bedroom clutter-free: Clutter can overload your senses, making it harder to fall asleep. Make sure to keep your bedroom clean so you can unwind and relax before bed.
11. Avoid all-nighters: While all-nighters are a common occurrence among college students, they can have detrimental effects on your sleep and mental health. They also affect your ability to learn, concentrate, and remember things the next day. If you’re stressed about a big test, plan to wake up early instead of staying up late.
12. Take a 20-minute power nap: If you woke up early to study or are trying to recover from the weekend, take a 20-minute power nap to recoup and regain some energy. Make sure you keep the nap at 20 minutes or you can risk waking up feeling even groggier than before.
13. Turn off the tech: Checking Instagram and Twitter right before bed is tempting, but the blue light emitted from your iPhone (or other technological devices) can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Try winding down with a relaxing activity like reading or meditation instead. Instagram will still be there in the morning.
Sleep Hacks for Parents
Whether you have four kids, two, or just one, finding the time to get quality sleep as a parent can feel impossible at times. The exhausted feeling of being up with your newborn all night or the dreaded anxiety brought on by having teenagers can keep you from falling asleep. Whatever it is, being a parent is tough, but hopefully these sleep hacks can help you achieve the much-needed shut-eye you deserve.
14. Ban pets (and kids) from bed: While sleeping with your dog does have some benefits, if you struggle with sleep, it may be time to kick out your furry friend. The same thing goes for kids. Extra bodies in your bed can hinder your sleep and cause you to wake up several times during the night.
15. Tire your children out during the day: If getting your kids to bed is a constant battle, consider incorporating more active activities into their day. Soccer practices after school or nightly walks before bed can help your children release some of that energy that may make going to bed at a decent hour tough.
16. Keep a gratitude journal: Studies have shown that grateful thinking can help people sleep better and longer. One great way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. One study even found that those who kept a gratitude journal slept an average of 30 minutes longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.
17. Have your partner give you a massage: Need to unwind after a long day of chasing after the kids? Tap your partner to give you a massage. Not only will this give you some nice one-on-one time together, but it will also help relieve tension so you can properly relax before bed.
18. Cut back on sugar: If you have a habit of snacking on sugary treats before bed, it could be inhibiting your sleep. Sugar can have a stimulating effect (as many parents know), that can disrupt your sleep and cause your metabolism to work harder throughout the night, resulting in you waking up several times to pee.
19. Get some vitamin D: Exposing yourself to the sun in the morning, whether that be going for a walk or opening up a window, can reset your circadian rhythm and tell your brain it’s time to start your day. Make it a family outing and walk to a park or a local coffee shop with the kids.
20. Tag team night duty: There is no reason that you should have to handle putting the kids to bed all by yourself. Take turns taking night duty or make it a family affair. Use the extra time to focus on self-care and relax before you hit the hay.
21. Get intimate: Not only will getting intimate with your partner strengthen your relationship, but it can also make it easier for you to fall asleep. Intimacy boosts feel-good hormones like oxytocin, lowers stress, and increases estrogen levels, leading to deeper sleep.
22. Hang blackout curtains: Whether you’re up all night with the newborn or have a tendency to wake up at the crack of dawn, consider installing blackout curtains in your bedroom. These will block any light from waking you up in the morning and can give you a dark room to nap if you’re looking to catch up on sleep during the day.
23. Involve your kids in the process: Getting your kids excited for bed will mitigate any stressful situations and allow your whole family to relax before lights out. You can do this by promising to read a bedtime story or by using the gratitude printables and stickers below to reflect on your day together.
Sleep Hacks for Working Professionals
Not only is lack of sleep bad for your productivity and mental health, but according to the Washington Post, sleep deprivation can cause you to lose up to 11 days of productivity per year. When you’re running a business or working tireless hours to reach that promotion, 11 days can be detrimental. Fortunately, working professionals can ensure a good night’s rest by practicing the sleep hacks below.
24. Cut caffeine after 2:00 p.m.: We’ve all been there when that 2:00 p.m. slump hits; however, pouring another cup of coffee will only hurt your ability to sleep later that night. Instead, grab a healthy snack or go for a walk outside.
25. Create a to-do list the night before: Sometimes the impending doom of the never-ending task list for the next day can make it harder to fall asleep. Next time you feel the stress from the next day start to creep up, write down a to-do list of the top seven things you need to get done. This will allow your mind to let go of these thoughts and you’ll start to feel yourself relax.
26. Use technology to track your sleep: While it’s never a good idea to stare at your phone or laptop right before bed, there are certain types of sleep technology that can help you track sleep. Certain sleep tracking apps can monitor your sleep and identify areas where you need to improve. Wearable sleep trackers, like wrist wearables and headbands, can identify your sleeping patterns and uncover how much time you spend in bed — offering advice on how much sleep you should really be getting.
27. Try progressive muscle relaxation: If you have a hard time relaxing before bed, progressive muscle relaxation can help relieve tense muscles so you can maintain relaxation more easily. Simply lay on your back with your hands at your sides. Take a deep breath and begin to tense each muscle for ten seconds and then release. Start with your forehead and work your way down.
28. Keep a consistent sleep schedule: People with consistent sleep schedules are 1.5 times more likely to feel well-rested during the day. Make an effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time.
29. Work out in the morning: Studies show that regular exercise helps regulate your circadian rhythm and promotes a healthy sleep schedule. Working out in the morning before you have to head to work will lead to a more active day and will allow you to sleep more soundly at night.
30. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: It’s important to create a meditative bedtime routine that will allow you to unwind after a long day at work. Consider creating a relaxing pre-bedtime playlist or begin incorporating meditation into your nightly routine.
31. Meditate before bed: Several successful entrepreneurs swear by meditation. And, as it turns out, meditating does more than prepare you for success. It can also improve sleep quality and make it easier for you to fall (and stay) asleep.
32. Try box breathing: If you have a big meeting the next day and can’t seem to kick your nerves, try box breathing to help you relax before bed. Box breathing is a technique often used in meditation that can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.
33. Get excited about the morning: Getting up for yet another day of work can feel hard at times. To make it easier, find something to get excited about in the morning. Maybe it’s trying a new coffee shop on your walk to work or putting on that new work outfit you’ve been dying to wear.
34. Listen to a soothing podcast: From meditative guides to calming bedtime stories, sleep podcasts are a great way to wind down and quiet your mind after a long day at work.
35. Use blue-blocking glasses: If you have to work late at night, use blue-blocking glasses. These glasses will block out any harmful blue light that could be negatively impacting your sleep.
Sleep Hacks for Everyone
There are some sleep hacks that stand the test of time, no matter who you are. Below are a few we recommend to anyone looking to catch up on their zzz’s.
36. Warm your feet: One study found that those who sleep with socks sleep an average 32 minutes longer and wake up fewer times during the night.
37. Limit alcohol before bed: While it’s tempting to pour yourself a glass of wine after a long day, if you’re looking for a good night’s rest, drinking alcohol before bed can inhibit that. During the week, try sticking to a drink at dinner and avoid alcohol at least four hours before bed.
38. Consider a weighted blanket: Those who suffer from anxiety and sleep loss can benefit from a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets create a calming effect and help soothe anxiety, ease insomnia, increase serotonin, and much more.
39. Clean your sheets: Keeping your sheets clean may make your bedroom more inviting and help your body relax so you sleep peacefully. Aim to wash your sheets once a week and keep an extra set handy.
40. Cool the temperature in your room: If you find yourself shivering in your sleep or have a tendency to wake up drenched in sweat, you may be sleeping in the wrong temperature. The best temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for adults.
41. Choose the right pillow: Having the right pillow can be a game-changer for your sleep. Everyone has different preferences, but look for a pillow that is fluffy and supports the shape of your neck.
42. Use aromatherapy to relax: Scents such lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, and bergamot all have the ability to help relieve stress and anxiety and can help you fall asleep. Keep essential oils by your bed and even spray a few scents on your pillow.
43. Drink tart cherry juice before bed: Tart cherry juice has several health benefits. One study found that participants who drank tart cherry juice before bed had an improvement in sleep length and quality.
44. Drink chamomile tea: Decaffeinated tea is a great alternative to a nightcap for those who are looking to improve their quality of sleep. More specifically, chamomile tea is rich in apigenin, an antioxidant that induces sleepiness.
45. Utilize red light: Unlike blue light, red light doesn’t suppress the release of melatonin and can improve the quality of sleep you get each night.
46. Take a warm bath: Taking a hot shower or warm bath before heading to bed can help with your ability to fall asleep. When you subject your body to hot water, it heats up and then instantly cools down once you get out — signaling to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep.
47. Use a white noise machine: White noise machines block out any background noise, allowing you to sleep undisturbed. Some people even find the sound therapeutic and nod off to sleep in seconds.
48. Sleep on a quality mattress: We spend around one-third of our lives sleeping. Investing in a quality mattress can make falling asleep easier and more enjoyable. You’ll also wake up with fewer aches and pains.
49. Practice yoga before bed: If the feeling of lying awake not being able to shut your brain off is familiar to you, try adding yoga to your nightly routine. Certain yoga poses for sleep have the ability to relax your body and mind, making a blissful slumber a lot more attainable.
50. Eat a light meal before bed: While a heavy meal can make us feel tired, it can hurt our ability to fall asleep. Practice good sleep hygiene by eating light and healthy meals before bed.
Hopefully, the above tips will help you catch up on some sleep and learn how to fall back asleep more peacefully. By making a few adjustments to your daily routine and practicing these sleep hacks, you’ll be drifting off to dreamland in no time.