EducationHealthSkills

Here we are, slowly creeping into mid-December and that only means one thing: finals week. Sleep is probably the first or last thing on your mind right now. If sleep is not one of your priorities, hopefully by the end of this article it’ll move up a level or two in importance.

  1. The Facts

Today, about 75% of people experience some type of sleep issue a few times a week, and about 50-70 million Americans have a sleep or wakefulness disorder. With this fast-paced, money-making, work-obsessed, change-achieving culture, America is reaching for perfectionism, ignoring the personal stakes that may entail. Lack of sleep is causing unintentional accidents on the road, chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as cancer, and a reduced level of productivity. When I asked a “4.0” or A+ friend what she thinks of sleep, she laughed and noted that most of the time, there’s simply not enough time for it. Is sleep really that underappreciated? Studies suggest that school aged children need about 10 hours of sleep; teens need 9-10 hours, while adults need 7-8 hours. In a survey, only 30% of adults reported getting over six hours of sleep while only 31% of teens reported getting at least eight hours of sleep.

  1. Memory Booster

Receiving the adequate amount of sleep actually helps you remember things after learning a new task. However, it seems as though students are actually skipping out on sleep in order to cram and essentially, remember more information. Next time you cram for your Bio exam, try studying all day, sleeping all night, and rising early the following morning to review – you may have much better results!

  1. Weight Gain

Oh no… college students, the freshman 15 was real. We all know firsthand that this is no myth. And here I am, as a sophomore, trying to shed those painful memories away with the help of my fabulous treadmill. Lack of sleep causes those numbers on the scale to increase. “Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite” says The Harvard Women’s Health Watch. It’s true! Think about it, how many times do you end up grabbing that bag of potato chips when writing that essay at 3:00 a.m., or how often you order delivery because there’s no time or your cravings are at an all-time high? Sleeping not only cuts off all chances of cravings, but it also promotes proper metabolism function.

  1. Morning Crankiness

Sleep deficiency causes irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and the ultimate case of moodiness. Notice that when you have slept plenty, you wake up happy, content, and almost excited to conquer your day. On the other hand, waking up to a firetruck alarm clock when it seems like you haven’t slept enough, makes you want to curl back into a ball sandwiched between those cozy sheets.  In fact, this may leave you only doing the things you need to do as opposed to the things you need and want to do simply because you are just too tired to do them. Get the sleep you need and feel ready to seize your youth!

  1. Health Risks

There are many types of health risks associated with lack of sleep including cardiovascular problems like hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and even an irregular heartbeat. In addition, skipping out on those hours can alter your body’s immune function which can, in turn, modify the body’s natural killer cells. This can call for a more vulnerable body making you more susceptible to infection and sickness. Enough sleep has also been linked with cancer prevention.

Living by that “YOLO” motto can definitely have its pros, but just remember that ignoring sleeping needs can put your psychological, emotional, and physical health at risk and maybe working on time management can help you receive the adequate amount of it. It is important that you put sleep on your list of daily priorities until you find it utterly “unthinkable” to miss out on it. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” you may think, but think again, my friends! Skipping out on sleep may just stop you from doing the things you love and need to do in life!

Image: Tandem Properties

EducationHealth

The semester is well underway and I’m sure, aside from getting involved in a gazillion clubs, juggling a job or an internship, and trying to have some kind of a social life, everyone is swamped with loads of homework. As I’m typing, many people are probably rushing to finish up their calculus problems or putting the final touches on a paper that is due in a few days. Whatever the case may be, there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

Pulling all-nighters and working well after midnight aren’t unusual scenarios. We fall asleep on our textbooks only to wake up in the morning ready to fall back into the same routine. College is extremely hard and the moments when you get to kick back and relax are extremely rare. Even then, the days when you do get a chance to take a break from schoolwork (i.e. the weekend) are usually not as laid-back as you would like them to be because there is always an exam to study for, a paper to write, or an assignment to complete.

They say coffee is a college student’s best friend, but spending the day (or even the night) working on homework isn’t the way to go about college because overworking yourself can cause your brain to melt into a pile of mush. Maybe that isn’t what really happens but, without the occasional break from schoolwork, you’ll eventually stress yourself out, and being stressed has many negative effects on your mind and body.

Whenever you’re at that point where you just want to rip your hair out, step away from your computer, put down the book you’re reading, and set aside that calculator. Your work will be there once you take a 10-15 break (or however long you think you need). It’s not going to get up and walk away, so use some of your time to rest your brain and stretch those legs because I’m sure you spend hours on end plastered to a chair (or your bed) whenever you do homework. If you can’t figure out to do with your free time, here is a list of things to do to help you unwind.

  1. Get a snack: Studying and homework is almost impossible to do on an empty stomach, so get something to munch on and something to drink so you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients you need. For better brain power, try eating healthy snacks. And no, potato chips are not an essential part of the food pyramid.
  2. Stretching/exercising: I have a friend who does lunges whenever she needs a break from doing her homework. You don’t have to do lunges, but stretching might be a good thing to do to keep your body from cramping up after hours of sitting. If you really want to get that heart pounding, try doing some jumping jacks.
  3. Read a book: And I don’t mean a textbook. Pick up a book that isn’t for school and read one or two chapters to get your mind off of your homework and allow yourself to slip into another world.
  4. Listen to music: Turn on your favorite band or singer and rock out to your favorite songs. You can sing along or dance or do whatever it takes for you to destress.
  5. Go for a walk: You don’t have to go too far, but you can walk around your residence hall or apartment complex a few times just to get some fresh air and get out of the confines of the four walls of your room so you don’t go stir crazy.
  6. Play a game: Games are a great way to keep your mind busy. More importantly, you get to have fun!
  7. Straighten up your room: I’m not sure about you, but my side of the room always seems to get out of hand whenever I’m studying or doing homework. I can’t do anything until my side of the room is in order and everything that was out of place is back into place.
  8. Check your email: When we’re busy with class and school work, sometimes we forget to check our inboxes to see if we received any important emails. Use your free time to make sure we’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Talk to people: Start up a conversation with your roommate, text a friend, or call a family member. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, but it’s important to get your mind off of your homework for a bit and what better way to do that than to converse with people about things that have nothing to do with homework.
  10. Set your alarm and take a nap: Of course I had to save the best for last. If you find yourself not wanting to do anything on this list, it might be time for a nap. After 30-45 minutes of resting your eyes, you should feel refreshed and ready to finish your homework.

There are a variety of things you can do to take a break from homework. Just remember not to spend too much time (more than an hour) taking a break. Also, don’t feel bad about taking a break. We all need one so our bodies and brain don’t shut down after hours of staring at the pages of a thick textbook or a computer screen. You might feel like there is not enough time in the day, but you have the power to make time, so try to work taking breaks into your schedule the best you can because you deserve it.

Image: Unsplash

EducationHigh SchoolTravel

For those of you who are about to embark on spring break or are still anticipating the sweet arrival for a long needed rest, here are some ways to relax while still remaining productive!

1)   Grab your calendar. Spend thirty minutes writing down everything you need to keep track of for the rest of the semester. For example, pull out your classes’ syllabi and mark down when assignments are due and when exams are taking place. Having everything marked visually in one place give you a good sense of what is coming up – stress less and take time for fun!

2)   Volunteer. If you are at home and looking for something to do, consider donating your time to volunteerism. Not only will you be doing good in the neighborhood, but you will have the opportunity to learn something new about your community. Check out Volunteer Match to start helping!

3)   Work out. In between your classes, friends, exams, homework, eating, sleeping, etc., it can be difficult to find time for exercise. Whether you go on a run, sign up for a trial-period at a nearby gym, or spend an hour outside doing yoga, take some time and sweat it out!

4)   Find a job or internship. This is easier said than done, but with just three months until summer it is a good idea to begin applying within the next few weeks. Websites like Intern Sushi and The Muse are great places to start the hunt!

5)   Rest. Your body needs to rest. Don’t feel bad about sleeping in or taking the mid-day nap you never have time for at school. After midterms your body is likely in need of some rest and relaxation.

If you are going on a trip with friends or family make sure to check out our tips on how to stay safe while traveling and have an awesome break!

 

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