How did you sleep?

Dorothea and Shivani have a few tips to improve the quality of your sleep!



YouAlberta is written by students for students.

Dorothea (she/her) is a fifth-year science-kinesiology student. She is incredibly passionate about the health and wellness of any community she is a part of and plans to pursue a career where she can continue to do just that! Dorothea enjoys discovering new restaurants and cafes around Edmonton. Being a competitive soul, you can often find her immersed in a board game with friends!


Shivani is a MSc health promotion student at the School of Public Health. She started volunteering with Wellness Supports in 2022 and is currently part of the Sleep Awareness working group, where she and her team have been organizing campaigns to promote healthy sleep among students at the U of A.

As students, sometimes sleep is the first thing we sacrifice when things get stressful. But those all-nighters you pull to cram for your three midterms in a row can actually cause more harm than good. 

In planning and attending Sleep Awareness Week events by Wellness Supports in the Office of the Dean of Students, we’ve learned a lot about sleep habits among students and had meaningful conversations about current sleep realities on campus. This experience highlighted the need for better sleep education in our campus community. 

As part of the Sleep Awareness Week campaign, we wanted to prompt students to reflect on their sleeping habits and provide education on how to improve them. This campaign featured “sleep-tip pillows” around North Campus, Campus Saint-Jean and Augustana, which were strategically placed to showcase many of the wellness resources available around campus. Through this collaboration, we were able to discover resources that may come in equally as useful as the tips in support for upcoming exams. It’s not every day that you see a full-size pillow in the library or near the gym, so we hoped that these pillows would spark curiosity about the sleep campaign and start a conversation about the tips. 

Specific tips were included to encourage students to prioritize sleep, practice proper sleep hygiene and spread a positive sleep culture around the U of A. In researching and preparing the pillow tips, we’ve learned that we definitely have some routine adjustments of our own to make, but the timing could not have been better with another exam season creeping upon us. 

We’ve learned that getting a good night’s rest is one of the most accessible forms of self-care, and you can start doing it tonight! So put on your cozy sweatpants, turn off the screens and channel your inner Sleepytime GUBA Bear!

Making a positive change toward better sleep is as easy as trying one of the pillow tips! In case you were too busy sleeping (YAY) and missed finding a pillow, here are the tips:

  • Sleep in your bed…not study
    Using your bed only for sleep builds a strong sleep association and a separate study space can improve your posture and productivity. 
  • Dimmed environments improve sleep
    Dimmed environments help increase the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, improving sleep. 
  • Journaling stressors before bed
    Noting down stressors of the day in a journal before you sleep can clear the mind and reduce restlessness before bedtime, improving sleep. 
  • Physical activity throughout the day, on a regular basis
    Being physically active throughout the day and avoiding heavy exercise before bedtime can help facilitate the process of falling asleep and improve sleep patterns. 
  • Put the screen away at least one hour before sleeping
    Turning off all electronics and performing quiet tasks, like reading a book, can increase melatonin secretion, a hormone required for sleep.
  • Establish a sleep routine 
    Aim to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day to improve daily sleep patterns. 
  • Get out of bed if you struggle to fall asleep
    If you spend more than 20 minutes falling asleep, get out of bed and try doing something relaxing and quiet, and then return to bed when you begin to feel drowsy again. 
  • Maintain ideal room temperature to improve sleep
    Keep room temperature below 20℃, as this is less likely to disrupt your body temperature and will, therefore, improve your sleep.
  • Taking proper naps can improve sleep
    Naps can facilitate daytime functioning after a difficult night and can be beneficial when done properly. 20-minute naps before 3 p.m. are ideal so as not to disrupt normal overnight sleep. A nap can improve cognitive functions such as memory, logical reasoning and the ability to complete complex tasks. 
  • Communicate with your roommate about your sleep schedule 
    Sharing preferences or expectations about noise, light, visitors and preferred sleep and wake time with those you share space with can help create a more supportive sleep environment.
  • Plan for exam season ahead of time 
    Plan how to prioritize sleep during exam season to avoid pulling all-nighters.
  • Consider getting a new mattress
    If your mattress is over 8 years old or if you are waking up sore, it may be time to replace it. 
  • Plan meals around bedtime
    Try to consume large meals three hours before bedtime; any later can hinder your sleep. 
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime
    Alcohol and caffeine have stimulating effects, and avoiding these substances before bedtime can improve sleep. 
  • Try lavender essential oils to help improve sleep quality 
    Lavender essential oils induce relaxation and can be sprayed on pillows or rubbed on the forehead before bedtime. 

Pause and think for a minute…how did you sleep? What changes can you make to practice your sleep hygiene so you can just stop dreaming (*pun intended*) about success and start achieving it?

For more sleep tips, prizes and exam de-stressing activities, check out Unwind Your Mind from April 10-26 in all North Campus libraries.

PS: Sleep trading cards, eye masks and sleepy tea may or may not make a re-appearance…