11 Tips For Healthier Sleep Habits

11 Tips For Healthier Sleep Habits

A word of advice from a college student who gets more than the average amount of sleep.
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As college students, it's typical to sacrifice sleep for everything else that's going on in our lives. As much as we like to pretend that sleep is for the weak, we know deep down that at some point, it will all come crashing down. So, it's better to establish healthier sleep habits when we still can.

1. Avoid drinking caffeine at later times in the day.

It’s difficult to fall asleep early when you’re all hyped up.

2. Don’t procrastinate on your homework.

Easier said than done, but this is usually the main cause of going to bed late.

3. Establish a regular time frame for when you want to go to bed.

If you’re sleeping at drastically different times every day, it’s hard to set a healthy sleep pattern.

4. Don’t take long naps in the afternoon.

They can be tempting, but they make it all the more difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable time.

5. Do something relaxing before going to bed.

This helps you unwind before going to sleep.

6. Avoid sugary foods before bedtime.

7. Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime.

8. Don’t mix up your sleep schedule too much over the weekend or on vacation.

This messes with your body clock!

9. Try to avoid bright screens before going to bed.

Yes, this includes computers and cell phones.

10. Improve your sleep environment by keeping it quiet and turning off the lights.

You sleep better when it’s dark and quiet.

11. Stay calm.

It’s easy to stress about the fact you’re not getting sleep or worry about whatever you have to do tomorrow, but clear your head and close your eyes.

Remember that no matter how stressful school gets, you should never sacrifice something as important as sleep. It's okay every now and then when you have a lot of work, but don't make it a habit. It's tempting, but you should remember that taking care of yourself is the most important thing.

Cover Image Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/4D8ezH0iXh8/maxresdefault.jpg

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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5 Reasons Why You Should Start Saying 'No' To Things

No, it's not okay to sleep for a week.

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Back-to-school is almost here! That means late night study sessions, job fairs, club meetings, and a whole lot of stress. So, before you overbook yourself and take on too many projects/classes, it's super important that you don't take on more you can handle or you'll be at risk of burning out.

So, what is being burnout?

David Ballard from the American Psychological Association describes it as "an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance." Here are a few signs you are more than just exhausted:

You can't think straight

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You find it hard to concentrate and think straight. When I get too stressed, I usually can't concentrate on anything to save my life. I find myself looking at the wall for long periods of time or resort in taking a nap because I just can't get any work done. You may also start to make irrational decisions like trying to quit your job or buying random things you don't need. Solving problems and remembering things have also become more challenging.

Constant exhaustion 

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Most people nap for 30-minutes to an hour. However, I am unlike most people. I take naps for 4 to 5 hours at a time and even after that much sleep I still feel incredibly exhausted. Exhaustion can be emotionally and mentally draining too. You get tired doing little things and seeing your loved ones is as equally draining.

Lack of motivation & productivity 

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When you have too many things you need to do and too many prior obligations you've already promised, it starts to become hard to do. You start to find yourself lacking the motivation to do anything. If getting up in the morning has become harder than usual or you finishing an email looks like a lot of work, there's a good chance you may be experiencing burnout.

You're alienating yourself 

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Sometimes hanging out with your friends and family can be exhausting but when you start to see that you are less willing to hang out, you're probably burnt out. You begin to alienate yourself and others start to alienate you. It's not because they are the problem either.

Self medicating 

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This symptom is a huge warning sign that you should all be on the look out for not just for yourself, but for the people around you. In the early stages of burnout, you may see yourself starting to self-medicating to numb the pain you're experiencing. This can be in the form of not only drugs, alcohol, or sex but impulsive spending or overworking. Someone who is burnt out will turn to self-medicating rather than self-care so be aware!

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, don't be scared to ask for help. You can also take preventative steps to mitigate these symptoms by taking time to get your life organized, getting plenty of sleep, and take a break. You can always say no if you see yourself taking on too many responsibilities and even ask to take a break.

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