But First, Sleep

But First, Sleep

Sleep is like a best friend; start giving that relationship the attention it needs.

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Sleep always seems to be the first priority to be pushed aside when things come up. Whether you procrastinate on homework, watch "just one more episode", or decide to go out late most nights, sleep is frequently disregarded for its importance. Especially during the academic year, students are highly known for having horrible sleep patterns. It's time to fix that!

The main issue that is causing people to have negative relationships with sleep is because sleep is not prioritized and is not always considered as important as other things when it is extremely important! Sleep has so many health benefits, just look it! There is so much to be gained from a good night's sleep! And if you don't look after it, well you're going to start missing out on those benefits! Prioritizing good sleep is the self-love we all could use more of!

Not to mention, having a good relationship with sleep just makes you feel better in general! It literally is a best friend because it helps you get what's best for you and wants you to be well.

The easiest way to start bettering your sleep is to try to get 7-9 hours each night. Some of you probably just went "I got three hours of sleep last night and that was a good night," but no matter what you think about functioning on minimal hours of sleep you know you could and should be doing better. Make time for your sleep. Know what amount of sleep makes you feel the best. I know people had to use the word "bedtime" but that's the key - set yourself an "unofficial bedtime." Forget the negative, "child-like" connotations and recognize that "unofficial bedtime" just means you are being aware and putting yourself and your sleep first. Even though you may not be tired at that time some nights, get your body into a routine. That way your sleep clock will naturally adapt and your circadian rhythms will start to match your schedule.

It's no fun being half-awake every day or worrying about falling asleep in class. Don't put yourself in that situation and just prioritize what your body needs from sleep. Personally, I can tell a huge difference from going to bed even just an hour later! Or if I stay up late one night I may not feel it the next day but it'll hit me for a few days after that. I don't know about you, but I like feeling well-rested and motivated to start the day, or at least feel like I had a good, deep sleep last night.

It's time to start making your sleep time worth it!

I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like they don't always sleep good. This past month I could tell I had not been sleeping the best I could be. I always felt exhausted and worn out and overwhelmed. Even though I had been getting a good quantity of sleep, it wasn't necessarily a good quality of sleep (which is almost more important, in my opinion). So, even though I had been sleeping decent amounts, I never thought my sleep would be the cause of me becoming constantly stressed to the point where I had this breaking point of "feeling weird" mentally and physically and I didn't know where this unexplainable feeling was coming from.

I decided to try to switch something up and see if it made a difference. I always give myself time at the end of each day to chill and separate myself from academic stresses. And I had commonly filled that time watching episode after episode of whatever tv-show was holding my attention at the time. Now I still watch tv shows or movies to relax a bit after a long day, but I decided I would restrict myself from watching them the hour before I go to bed to see if it made a difference. Instead, I've been reading in that time and let me just say it's made all the difference. Not only am I prioritizing time to leisure read and am getting through books I've been wanting to read for months but "never have the time," but it has also helped me prepare my body and mind to get ready to sleep. Reading is said to naturally raise the melatonin levels in your brain, a hormone that is commonly used to help insomnia.

After just a week of changing what I do before I go to bed, I can honestly say I'm beginning to sleep better. I feel more ready to sleep at the end of the day, I don't wake up in the middle of the night as much, and in the morning I feel like I've had a deep sleep and am ready to attack the day.

Finding a routine that promotes a better night's rest for you is one of the best changes you can make! It can be as simple as putting your phone aside for the last half hour before going to bed. Avoiding electronics and technology before sleeping is one of the biggest factors for sleeping well. The light emitted from your phone or computer or television actually prevent you from naturally becoming tired and prohibits your body from preparing itself to sleep.

Another small tip that helps you start improving your sleep is to workout regularly. Looking back, I always slept the best during my sports seasons because I was on a consistent schedule and was working out daily. Simply, your body is tired from exercising which contributes to you feeling more in need of sleep and allows you to fully appreciate being able to completely rest at the end of the day. Sleep is essential for repairing muscles, so if you're working out but not getting sufficient sleep you could be susceptible to injuring yourself from not letting your muscles repair themselves. Making the most of your day allows you to make the most of your sleep at night. Don't run yourself out and load your day unhealthily, but fill your day so by the end of the day you feel content relaxing and ready to put your body and mind at peace.

Long story short: prioritize sleep, allow your mind to unwind, challenge your mind and body during the day and let it rest at night. There are so many natural ways to improve your sleep before talk of supplements needs to be brought up. Take a warm shower at night, stretch, meditate, find a good temperature your body likes to sleep in (ideal is 65-69 degrees), don't nap during the day, and get yourself into a routine. All these things can go a long way in terms of preparing yourself to sleep.

Your sleep wants to love you, so give it reasons to and love your sleep back just as much. No more "I'm not tired when I should go to bed, but then I never want to get out of bed in the morning." Once you can start conquering those past nights of inefficient sleep, you are able to start conquering your days!

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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4 Insightful Quotes From 'The Alchemist' That Will Resonate With People Who Want To Follow Their Dreams

Paulo Coelho's famed coming-of-age novel continues to inspire readers today with following their dreams.

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In "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, a young boy named Santiago embarks on a life-changing journey to find a hidden treasure in the pyramids of Egypt and learns the importance of following one's destiny along the way. Since its release in the 1990s, "The Alchemist" has captivated people all over the world, including TV personality Oprah Winfrey and actor Will Smith.

With its powerful messages of love and gratitude, here are some of the most insightful quotes from the novel that will resonate with those who want to find and pursue their purpose in life.

1. “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

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On his journey, Santiago learns that love exists as a universal language in the world. When people follow their dreams and passions, they are driven by the power of love. With this power, one can guide themselves on the path to finding their own treasure and accomplishing their goals. Actively shaping your destiny through love can also positively improve how you perceive everything around you.

2. “When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

Sunset Sunrise Sun

Too often people live their days accustomed to routine and consistency. When you begin treating each day as a new day full of opportunities and find time to appreciate the good things, you start seeing the beauty of life. This importance of practicing gratitude serves as a reminder to the world that life is fleeting, and we must strive to always make the best and see the best of our situations.

3. “And, when you can't go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.”

Lake By The Mountains

Throughout their lives, people will make mistakes and have regrets, and we will often spend days wondering what we could've done differently. We forget that we can't change the past and that the only thing that matters is how we move forward in the present day. So let go of past mistakes and regrets, and focus on how you can improve the present.

4. “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

Mountains Dirt Road Hill

In the novel, Santiago hears a story of a man who wanted to learn the secret of happiness from a wise king. The king told the man to walk around his palace holding a spoon full of oil and making sure not to spill it. After successfully doing so, he returns to the king and he asks if the man had seen all the beauty of his castle, which he ignored in his quest to keep the oil on the spoon. When following our dreams, we must not lose sight of appreciating all the wonders of life along the way; after all, it's not about the destination, but the journey.

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