In the next few weeks, many of the UK’s new school leavers will head off for their first days at university. For those moving away from home, the anticipation and excitement can sometimes lead to feelings of anxiousness and disrupted sleep patterns.
To help, the experts at Crafted Beds have provided five tips for students and four tips for parents to help ensure a restful night’s sleep before embarking on their university journey this September.
Tips for students
Stay active during the day
Regular exercise helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Engage in physical activities you enjoy, whether going for a walk, practising yoga, or playing sports. However, try not to do strenuous exercise close to bedtime, as it may have a stimulating effect.
Watch your diet and caffeine intake
Diet plays a significant role in sleep quality. Avoid heavy meals, spicy foods, and excessive caffeine, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with falling asleep and staying asleep. Opt for a light, balanced dinner, and consider drinking herbal tea instead of caffeinated beverages in the evening.
Prepare for and manage homesickness
Homesickness is a common challenge for new university students, and worrying about it can affect sleep. Try proactive ways to manage homesickness, such as staying connected with family and friends through regular calls and messages. You could also bring a few comforting items from home, like photos or familiar bedding, which can help to provide a sense of security in the new environment.
Create a to-do list
A common cause of sleep disruption before university is a racing mind filled with worries and to-do lists. Create a to-do list for the next day before bedtime. This simple practice can help you organise your thoughts and alleviate anxious feelings about forgetting important tasks, allowing for a more peaceful night’s sleep.
Practise progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a relaxation technique that can help combat stress and promote better sleep. Try exploring PMR exercises when going to sleep. These involve tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in the body and can be a helpful way to unwind and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Tips for parents
You must acknowledge your child’s growing independence and decision-making abilities. The best thing to do is to help from a respectful distance, encouraging them to make choices about their sleep routine while offering guidance when needed.
Be a listening ear
You can create a safe space for your child to express their concerns and fears about the university by offering plenty of time and space for conversations. Sometimes, talking about their worries can provide immense relief and help them sleep better.
Set healthy boundaries
While encouraging independence, you can still remind your child about the importance of self-discipline, including managing screen time and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Lead by example, actively turning your phone off before bed, for example, and sharing how much better your sleep is from doing this.
However, it’s important not to push this into your child; they should make their own decisions.
Keep yourself informed about your child’s university schedule and important dates so you can offer support and understanding during stressful times. You know your child best, so what this support looks like is up to you, but – as an example – this could be anything from sending a care box to offering a listening ear if your child feels overwhelmed.