Thursday, July 18, 2019

Health with Tess: Exam season? Sleep season!

April 3, 2019 by Tess Syrowik, contributing writer

Happy exam season! Yeah, I’m rolling my eyes and glaring at me too. We’ve got exams, we’ve got essays, and we’ve got presentations. It’s not really the time of semester that we celebrate; usually, we celebrate surviving it. One thing that will help you get through the upcoming chaos is sleep. Yep, that thing we always mean to get more of—the thing we shorten in order to finish an essay. Not getting enough of it leaves us with the sensation of tiredness and grog that crawls into our bones.

More and more research is coming out about why it’s so necessary to get a good rest every night for both your long- and short-term health, but with the forecast of concentrated schoolwork up ahead, we really only have time for the quick and dirty short-term stuff relevant to students. 

Health with Tess is a column about health issues; it appears in every issue of Nexus.

A good night’s rest leaves you more able to concentrate and be productive. After working hard all semester, we don’t want to let everything slide at the end. We need that concentration and productivity, which logically means we also need that sleep. 

Not sleeping enough can lead to myriad health issues. It impacts our immune systems and our mental health. People with reduced sleep catch colds more often, and many cases of depression are linked to both the quantity and quality of sleep that people are getting. 

Yikes. So what can we do to help ourselves get more of this magical rest? 

A huge body of research points to reducing blue-light exposure for at least an hour before going to bed. Blue light has a similar wave frequency as daylight, so it messes with our systems when we see blue light and then immediately try to go to sleep. Blue light comes from TVs, phones, and computer screens. The thing that works best for me is to have a nice-sounding alarm about an hour before bedtime that reminds me that I need to get ready for bed soon. 

Waking up at a consistent time helps our bodies get into a good rhythm for going to sleep. Try not to take long naps in the middle of the day. A nap (with an alarm to help you not oversleep) can be really helpful sometimes, but long and uncontrolled naps can make it hard to rest later on. Caffeine is best friends with adulting for many of us, but it’s not on great terms with sleep. Set a time (and stick with it) that you don’t caffeinate after. If you need perking up, take a 15-minute walk outside or eat an apple to help boost your energy instead. 

The bottom line is this: sleep is important. Messing with how much sleep you get will mess with your end-of-semester (and long-term) success.

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