One important step for handling test anxiety is to be certain you get a good night’s sleep. While that might seem like a simple enough goal, achieving a good result takes a little investment of thought and time. To make sure you’re ready for test day, start early and follow these easy steps.

Being able to achieve a good night’s sleep depends on setting up and following good habits. The Centers for Disease Control refers to these habits as your “sleep hygiene.” The CDC provides information on the importance of good sleep and offers these guidelines to help you create good sleep hygiene.

  • Start as far in advance of your exam date as possible. Create a consistent schedule for the time you go to bed each night and the time you wake up in the morning. This includes your sleep time on the weekends. This schedule creates an expectation in your body and your brain of what your rest time will be. Keeping it consistent makes it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up when you need to.
  • Ensure that your bedroom is dark, quiet, and relaxing. Make sure the temperature is set where it feels most comfortable for you.
  • Don’t use electronics or watch television when you’re in your bed as it sends a confusing message to your brain that defeats your goal of better sleep.
  • Avoid large, heavy meals just before bed as your body will demand energy to help you digest. Avoid caffeine drinks, drinks high in sugar, and alcohol (which can throw off your wake-up time).
  • Finally, try getting some exercise during the day. Physical activity during the day, or even being outside for 30 minutes, can help you fall asleep more easily.

If you’ve established a good sleep routine before your exam, it will be easier to handle the stress the night before testing. However, if you find yourself feeling anxious, here are some additional tips to try to help you get the rest you need.

  • Try a warm bath, listening to music, or relaxation and breathing techniques to help you unwind before bed.
  • If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of calling it a night, or if you wake up within 20 minutes and can’t fall back to sleep, get up and try something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

Sleep is crucial for both your physical health and your mental health. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, see your healthcare provide for additional options.

For test stress, give these suggestions a try – and then rest easy! You got this!

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