Everyone knows that when you have sleeping problems, you do not feel well. And the more tired you are, the less likely you are to remember what you study, and to pay attention in class (not to mention the danger of missing class entirely by sleeping through it). In addition, your health and even your weight may be affected by lack of sleep, making you more vulnerable to the innumerable illnesses that sweep through dormitory populations. So, as a college student, you will want to make sure that you don't suffer from sleep deprivation. Yet dormitories are often crowded and noisy and college is stressful, so you may be wondering how to fall asleep, or how to sleep better? Here are some ideas that may help.

Menzel's sister Emilie, sleeping
Credit: Adolf Friedrich Erdmann von Melzel

10. Listen to the right music. Several research studies have shown that listening to at least 45 minutes of soft classical music synchronizes your brain waves, slows your heart beat, and helps you to relax and get a deep sleep. In addition, the parasympathetic nervous system takes on a rhythm that makes it easier for you to sleep deeply. Good music to listen to is symphonic music by Mozart, Haydn, Czerny, or other classical composers. Load the slow movements of these symphonies on to your mp3 player, and lie back and relax! Program your mp3 player to decrease the volume during the night, so that by the time you reach a deep sleep, you have quiet.

9. Noise-cancelling headphones may work to block out noise. If you do not sleep on your side, you can wear these all night, and play the classical music mentioned above, or if you have textbooks, lectures, or foreign language audiobooks on tape, you can study and sleep at the same time! Just make sure the volume is low enough not to disturb other residents, and you can reap the benefits of peace and quiet as well, by programming the volume to gradually descend during the night as you fall into a deeper sleep.

It's true, these noise-cancelling earphones look like an expensive investment. However, compared to the cost of even one college class, this may be one of the best investments in your college career that you will ever make.

8. If you are one of those people who sleeps on their side, noise-cancelling headphones may not work for you. However, a great alternative to block out noise and improve sleep are the ordinary ear plugs. By eliminating extra noise, you will be able to rest undisturbed. Just remember your basic hygiene -- do not share your ear plugs with anyone else, and keep your ear plugs clean. Be sure to test your ear plugs lying down for comfort, and do not wash the "memory" type with soap and water, as this will make them lose their memory properties.

7. If ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones do not work for you, try filtering out sounds a different way. Either get a small fan, with the right amount of noise to block out other sounds (it can also help keep the temperature more comfortable at night), or try a white noise machine to help you into a deep sleep. These machines come with a variety of preprogrammed sounds, so find a combination that you and your roommate can live with.

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6. To block out light, you may want to consider an eye pillow. This can be a plain mask, but there are also eye pillows available that can be heated or chilled to alleviate headaches and promote sleep. Some eye pillows can be filled with herbs, such as lavender, sage, or chamomile to promote deep sleep. If you have a tendency to toss and turn, make sure the eye pillow fastens comfortably. If you tend to sleep without much movement, you may want to consider an eye pillow filled with flax seed or similar filling, to encourage you to keep your eyes closed. Eye pillows also help provide darkness and improve sleep when your roommate is studying, working at the computer, or watching TV late at night.

5. If you decide you can't stand anything on your face, you may want to consider blackout shades for your windows. Blackout shades and curtains come in a variety of styles and colours, and work well to block out flashing lights from emergency vehicles, or flashing neon signs. Blackout shades and curtains are relatively inexpensive, and will provide you with enough darkness to fall into a deep sleep comfortably (of course, it won't work if your roommate needs to sleep with the TV on). Or you may want to consider making a bed canopy for your bed--made in a heavy enough material, it will block out light and sound, as well as giving you extra privacy!

4. A warm bath before bed, and sometimes a cup of calming herbal tea, such as chamomile, vervain, or linden, may be just the thing to ensure a good night's sleep. Regular massage sessions may also work to relieve pain, help relaxation and alleviate stress, enabling you to have a deep sleep. Try to limit caffeine intake to early in the day, and if you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation and early in the evening. Many natural sleep aids exist, and it may be worth your while to give these natural methods for going to sleep a try.

3. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night. Our bodies respond well to routines, and by following the same bedtime rituals at the same time every night, you may be able to train yourself to fall into a deep sleep by a certain time. Just make sure that it is early enough that you will get the full allotment of deep sleep you need to function well. By the same token, do your best not to nap during the day—even a short nap can upset your daily rhythm and make it nearly impossible for you to get the full amount of sleep you need.

2. You can also try some therapeutic-grade essential oils, such as those sold by your Young Living representative. Whether you put a few drops of lavender on your pillow, or add a drop of another oil to your eye mask or bath, you may find that inhaling quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils (not those available in the grocery store) as a sleep aid will improve your sleep (they may even help your roommate to stop snoring!). 

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1. If you have tried one or more of these ideas, and for whatever reason, they just do not work, you can always talk to your resident assistant if your sleep problem is caused by noise or light. Resident assistants are trained to handle difficult situations, including noisy neighbours, stubborn roommates, and other situations, as well as being in a position to request repairs for dripping faucets, flickering lights, and whatever else may be keeping you awake.

In all likelihood, some combination of these solutions will help you to get a good night's rest, and ensure that you maintain your health and sanity. Whatever you try, I hope that you have a good night, and quit lying awake wondering how to fall asleep!