As we age, you may have noticed your ability to run on less and less sleep. Back in elementary school, we used to relish in nap time and those early bedtimes (sometimes in summer the sun would still be just setting when I was sent to bed…I just stayed up reading for a good hour). Now, anyone who goes to bed before midnight is considered lucky and if you fall asleep before 11, it’s just assumed you pulled an all-nighter or something previously. We love to stay up late and do our thing, but we also complain about being tired. Fortunately for us, we don’t need as much sleep as our younger selves did.
In a study by Elizabeth Klerman of Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School in 2008, it was found younger people get on average 9 hours of sleep while adults get 7.5—all participants were in bed in the dark for 16 hours. Thus, Klerman and her colleagues concluded that older people simply need less sleep. Older people (which she clarifies as 60 and above) take longer to fall asleep. Klerman also found that the younger people in the study, however, slept more than they normally would allow for themselves. Therefore, she concluded younger people aren’t sleeping as much as they should.
But these sleeping patterns aren’t as controllable as we think. Staying up all night or falling asleep in class is not just because of pressures put on the body to stay awake. Younger people have a different clock than adults—scientifically known as the circadian rhythm. Studies have found that around the teenage years, this “clock” of our day-to-day activities changes so one falls asleep later at night and wants to wake up later too. It is believed this change in rhythm is caused by the brain’s later release of melatonin, a hormone linked to the body’s sleep schedule, thus making it difficult to fall asleep earlier. Tack this biological change onto all the schoolwork that piles up over the years, the start of all-nighters to get everything done and perhaps taking on jobs and internships, too, it’s no wonder we always feel so sleep deprived!
Another study lead by Derk-Jan Dirjk, professor of sleep and psychology at the University of Surrey in 2009, revealed that part of healthy aging is the requirement for less sleep. They found that the 20-30 group slept 7.23 hours, 40-55ers slept 6.83 hours and the 66-83 group slept 6.51 hours during a night with 8 hours in bed (though they said this isn’t necessarily “normal”). The study did, however, show researchers that older people being tired during the day is abnormal and can be a sign of a sleep disorder. The nature and conditions of sleep are still mostly at large and it is still indefinite how much sleep a person truly needs. These studies have brought a lot of new information to light so far.
So should you be worried that you don’t get nearly as much sleep as your little brother? Not at all! While there are many mysteries surrounding sleep, various studies have shown it’s only natural to get less when you’re older (though they aren’t necessarily taking the late night cramming sessions into account). But, just because you don’t need as much sleep as you did back in the day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to be well rested. A sleep deficit will not only impact where you fall on the cranky scale, but it will start to impact those grades. Just because your body can function on less sleep, doesn’t mean you should experiment with your sleep schedule and try to run on less and less nightly z’s. Your social and academic lives aren’t the only things at risk. The National Institutes of Health cited young adults, ages 12 to 25, to be of “high risk in sleepiness” which can cause them to face injuries or even death from a lapse in attention or quick response—like falling asleep at the wheel.
Ultimately, whether you are an older person who can sleep in late or only sleeps 6 hours every night, the most important thing to keep in mind is staying healthy. The better you sleep and take care of yourself the less dangers you and others will face and the happier the world can be. The Beatles said all you need is love, but I think sleep is just as important.
Sweet dreams, friends!
I’m reading Humanities Through the Arts
It’s been a while since I’ve had a real “bedtime”, but the further along I go in college, the more I think I need to set one. It becomes difficult to get a goodnight’s sleep when you’re on the go, doing assignments, and running at full speed as most us college co-eds often do! So how can you prioritize and make sure you are getting the right amount of Z’s and at the right time?
It seems all too often that I’m wide awake at night, scurrying to get a paper done or finishing a quick project. By the time I’m done studying and putting things away and ready for the next day, the clock has long since struck 12 and the wee hours of the morning are upon me. So how do I get in that mess? How do I let the hours slip away? By going to sleep so late and not paying attention to time my sleeping hasn’t been as productive. I wake up tired, go to bed full of energy, and wake up to what feels like a never ending cycle of “nap desire”—the constant desire to take a nap wherever I’m standing!
I’m working to change this cycle and have been changing things up to make my sleeping habits better, and hopefully add a few hours to my sleep chart! I have done a few things that actually made an instant difference!
Do you remember when you were little and your mom or dad would say, “Jimmy make sure you get your stuff ready the night before! Lay out your books, pick out your outfit!” Well it looks like mom may have been right! By getting organized and preparing for the day to come—especially on Sunday right before the school week starts—you will save countless minutes in the morning! You know what that means, extra snooze time!
There are numerous benefits to getting organized pre-slumber—besides just extra sleep time in the morning. Deep down it makes us all happy to hit the button one more time. Who doesn’t love 10 more minutes of uninterrupted sleep?! But other major perks include a smoother sleep transition. By getting ready the night before you are reliving unconscious stress that builds when you have a lot on your mind. It’s never fun to climb into bed and have to worry about everything going on tomorrow. You don’t want to try and figure out what books you’ll need, or if you finished something you were supposed to do! Sleep is supposed to be stress free. By taking a few minutes to lay everything out, you are freeing up that space to just relax and enjoy the act of sleeping.
Now as helpful as organization can be, another good habit to get used to just checking the time. If you know you’ve been hitting the hay a little on the late side, make it a point to get to bed a little earlier. Try moving up your “bedtime” by 5 minutes each night. Before you know it you will be getting in bed a half hour earlier, and then an hour the next week. It makes a huge difference when you get to unwind and just lay down knowing you have all night to rest.
A few more tips to try if you’re really in the sleeping mood, are eating habits. Let your stomach settle and try not to eat an hour or so before you go to sleep. Stick to water and make sure you aren’t crazy and running around. Get your body ready to unwind and slow your roll. Try to calm your activities and get into a sleep routine. Don’t use your phone in bed. When you set your alarm, set it for real! Say goodnight, and actually mean it! Once your lights are off, keep your phone light off too! You start to stir your mind again and then you have to get back in “sleep mode”. It might seem like you’ll miss out on something, but I’ve found that texts are more exciting to wake up to rather than hazily attempting to read them in the dark!
Give these tips a try and see if you are a happier sleeper, or if you can at lest get a few extra hours of Z time in!
Back in my elementary school days, being a morning person came easily. I remember waking up at 6 or 7 am in order to hang out with my older siblings. But with each new grade, getting up early became more and more of a nightmare. By the time I was in high school and had to be ready by 7 am every day, I thought I would never be energized again.
In college, we have the luxury of making our own schedules. Though I still tend to go for the early side so I’m not stuck in class until 9 pm, many students opt to start classes in the afternoon and not finish until it’s dark outside. While it might be nice to sleep in, we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable real world where we’ll need to be at work in the early hours of the day.
Have no fear! You can be a morning person without having to sacrifice sleep or going to bed when your grandparents do. Many of you may feel like you’re a night owl: at night, you’re most productive and motivated. Maybe for you all-nighters are a norm. While it’s great you’re getting your work done, wasting an entire day and having to spend your nights working will not only mess up your social life, but will get you in a bad groove for the 9-5 job you’ll likely have one day. So, it’s time to embrace the daylight.
Tip #1: Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
It may sound simple enough, but waking up at the same time each morning, including the weekend, can be a tough habit to get into. Setting your alarm for 8 am every day and actually getting up when it sounds will take getting used to. At first, your body will protest. Your fingers will inch toward the snooze button and your eyes will immediately shut themselves again. But the more you force yourself to get up at the alarm, the easier it will be. Better yet, the more regularly you get up at this time, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep at the same reasonable hour every night. You can even make this step easier by gradually changing your rise time, pushing it forward 15 minutes every few days until you reach the desired wake up call.
Tip #2: Lights On
You know those days when you’re laying in bed after a long night, and the afternoon sun just won’t stop glaring through the windows, effectively keeping you from sleep? Well, now you can no longer curse the sun—or your regular bedroom light—because it is key in becoming a morning person. Light helps control our sleep schedules: we (hopefully) feel more tired when it’s dark, and the light starts to make us alert and awake. By either leaving your blinds open when you sleep, or putting a light on right away, this will effectively help keep you awake so you can begin your day.
Tip #3: No Late Night Coffee or Food Binges
Though as college students facing high stress especially during exams, a midnight snack shouldn’t turn into a 3-course meal—and if you want to wake up early, you probably shouldn’t be eating at midnight anyway. Eating large meals late at night will only keep you up longer, as will any Red Bulls or coffee runs. Save coffee for the morning and large meals for during the day and dinner time. This tip will also help you avoid the freshman-but-let’s-be-realistic-anyone-can-gain-weight-in-college 15.
Tip #4: Make Yourself Work To Turn Off the Alarm
By putting your alarm in another room (only do this if it is super loud) or on a desk on the opposite side of the bedroom, you will have no choice but to get out of bed to turn it off. Just like that, you’re a little more energized, a little more awake, and have no choice but to start the day. If you share a room with a roommate, this will further encourage you to get up right away to turn off the persistent ringing—unless you hate your roommate, in which case, you’re on your own.
Tip #5: Think Soothing
When it gets close to bedtime, you need to go into super relaxed mode. No more stressing and thinking about all the to-do’s of tomorrow. No getting caught up in a super lengthy movie that makes you more awake. No exercise that gives you an adrenaline and temperature boost. Instead, it’s all about the calm serene of peaceful sleep. Get a sound machine to lull your eyes closed. Meditate or try some relaxing yoga to ease the mind and relax the body. Take a soothing bath. Do whatever you need to so your eyes are drooping and your mind is quiet.
The road could be long and hard, but don’t give up on your ventures to become a morning person. It is doable and will lead to long, happy days of productivity and fun. Good luck and sweet dreaming!
Finals week, the week that students dread every semester from the time the syllabus is handed out. The week you live inside your textbooks and your viciously scrambled notes/handouts. While there isn’t much you can do about what your schedule during that week, there are a few things that you can do to help prepare yourself for this very stressful period of time when most people’s veins are full of coffee, red bull, 5 hour energy, and whatever else they need to keep their system running until that last test is handed in.
As a college student, if you haven’t pulled an all-nighter yet you are incredibly prepared, taking some easy classes, or you have no social life. Sleep deprivation is something that most college students will eventually encounter, and you will have to figure out a way to deal with it one way or another. Here are tips and suggestions for those who may not be getting their full 8 hours of sleep.
1. Sleep well 2 nights before a big exam. Studies have shown that getting decent sleep the night before an exam is not nearly as crucial as getting a good night’s sleep 2 nights before the exam. For example, if your test is on a Wednesday, make sure you sleep well on Monday night. Believe me, this is one of the best tips I’ve ever used and it helps tremendously.
2. Take study breaks. Cramming is not ideal when it comes to studying, especially for finals, but there are some times where you just don’t have a choice. If you have to cram the night before a final make sure to take study breaks to get your mind off of the subject matter. Whether it is grabbing some food, playing the new Modern Warfare 3, or going for a jog make sure to take breaks. By studying the subject matter in blocks you more likely to retain the information and be able to understand a larger volume of information than you would think you could.
3. Manage your time based on your schedule. If you’ve got your tests spread out over the week, take time to recognize which tests are the most important. This way you know which nights you will need to stay up late to focus in on that chapter that you didn’t understand. Try to plan a block of extended time that you can head to the library and study.
4. Eat healthy and consistently. The last thing you want to do when staying awake long nights is eat candy and skip meals. Try to keep and maintain a healthy diet, as your body probably needs it the most with all of the stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. For snacks, you should consider yogurt, whole grain cereal, trail mix, or an apple.
5. Only use energy drinks/sodas/coffee when necessary. As a rule of thumb, I will not drink anything caffeinated after 5pm, and I will not drink more than 2 energy drinks a day. Try to stick with foods and drinks that have a natural energy boost in them so that your body is not out of whack when you are ready to finally get some sleep. Eat an apple instead of drinking coffee, or head over to Jamba Juice or Smoothie King and grab a shake.
6. Foods/drinks to help enhance sleep. When you are finally ready to go to bed, there are some foods/drinks that will naturally help you get in the mood to rest well and be ready to take on any exam. I know it may sound a little strange, but try eating breakfast foods right before you head to bed. Grab a banana, drink a large glass of milk, eggs, oatmeal, hummus and bread, turkey, etc. These foods contain certain amino acids that help produce melatonin, and also ones that have tryptophan in them. These are very helpful when trying to get some rest.
7. Exercise regularly. Since you are depriving yourself of sleep there are some repercussions that will affect the way you go about your day. By exercising, you will help your body stay well-oiled and fully functional. The last thing you want is to get sick during your finals.
I’m reading Economics: Principles, Problems, and Policies
There is no better feeling than walking out of a test knowing that you totally rocked it and have a great opportunity at getting the A you need to bring up your GPA. On the contrary, walking out of a test knowing that you bombed the exam totally sucks. For those who come out with their heads held high, keep doing what you’re doing. For those who are looking for a little guidance, read on. There are quite a few things you can do to increase those test scores–and sorry, cheating isn’t one of them.
1. GO TO CLASS. It sounds easy, but going to class is extremely underrated. Not only will it help with those in-class pop quizzes and attendance scores, but you’ll also figure out what your teacher is emphasizing for exams.
2. WRITE EXAM DATES IN YOUR CALENDAR. Planning ahead can help you organize your schedule before things start piling up; this way you can plan when to study for exams and when to work on that big research paper. By having your important dates organized in a calendar, you are constantly being reminded of upcoming deadlines. No more excuses to procrastinate!
3. STUDY IN A NEAT, QUIET, CLEAN ENVIRONMENT. Studies have shown that students who are studying in an organized environment are more likely to retain more information and make better grades. If you’ve got the time, you may want to consider tidying up before you crack open that textbook.
4. STUDY BASED ON YOUR LEARNING STYLE. Everyone is a little different when it comes to the way they study. Are you better at using flashcards or talking to others about particular concepts? Click here to see what kind of learning style suits your personality. By discovering how you normally process information, you can ignore ineffective learning techniques and focus on what clicks for you.
5. CREATE A STUDY GROUP. If you don’t already know some people in your class, start making new friends! It is very helpful to get different perspectives on material; chances are you didn’t write down every single note or concept. When selecting study partners, make sure to choose people who actively participate in class. You want to include the annoying chick who raises her hand for every question, not the guy dozing off in the back of class.
6. STUDY IN ADVANCE. Yes, there are over 1,000 things you can think of doing instead of studying for a test. But guess what, you’re a big kid now and you need to start handling important priorities. Try taking 30 minutes or so to review the material every day instead of pulling an all-nighter. Give enough time to let the material sink in; cramming will push everything into your short-term memory banks, which is about as unreliable as an umbrella in a hurricane.
7. TAKE STUDY BREAKS. Study breaks are crucial because it gives your brain a little downtime to relax and let the material sink in better. If you push yourself too hard for too long, your brain will hit what I like to call “information overload”. Try and study at a consistent pace, taking breaks as needed, to lower your stress levels. You shouldn’t have to rely on No-Dos and Red Bulls to get you through those 6 chapters the night before the exam.
8. GO TO OFFICE HOURS. If there are any concepts you’re having trouble with, talk to your teacher about it. It is their job to help you, and office hours are their set times to talk to students in need.
9. MAKE A STUDY GUIDE. If the professor has not provided one for you, make an outline of the material that will be covered on the exam. This way you’ll have a bird’s eye view of what to study and what you can skip over.
10 REST UP. In my personal experience, getting a good night’s sleep TWO nights before the exam is crucial. Eating well–yes, that means a healthy meal–the night before and the morning of the test are also very important; your brain needs energy to properly function during the exam.
Study hard and make those grades!
I’m reading Human Anatomy and Physiology