Dear Insomniacs, There Is A Trick To The Trade, Allow Me To Help

Dear Insomniacs, There Is A Trick To The Trade, Allow Me To Help

Catch some Z's the right way.

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I've never stayed up past 12 a.m. on a daily basis. Starting college, I didn't realize how much studying is required for me to keep up with the lectures that I would stay in the library until 2 a.m. without noticing how much time has gone by. Clearly not healthy, I knew I had to try to gradually sleep early. I say gradually because, on days where I force my self to sleep by 12, I lie awake until 2 or 3, the time that my body is used to sleeping by. So gradually getting back to 12, I'll be able to get the ideal eight hours of sleep I need.

I don't understand how people pull all-nighters, especially on a school day. The one time I did for a Latin Convention project, I felt like I was literally dying from exhaustion. For those night-owls, here are some tips I've acquired throughout the years.

1. Drink tea — decaf, of course

Green tea has the amino acid L-theanine which naturally reduces stress and improves the length and quality of sleep. I typically only drink organic green tea. It relaxes me when the hot liquid goes down my throat, especially in the winter. I fall asleep pretty quickly afterward. I would also try Yogi Bedtime tea.

2. Set timers

I lose track of time quite easily when I'm studying. Set reminders/alarms to eat, take a break and go to sleep. Fortunately, there's a bedtime app on iPhones installed to keep track of your sleep cycle and plenty of apps out there to do the same.

3. Get your exercise in

Try to go to the gym every day. I find that on days that I go to the gym, I sleep earlier and better, probably because I'm just tired. It's also a great way to release any stress that your mind and body may have. Stretch into yoga and let your heart pump your blood for better circulation.

4. #SelfCare #SkinCare

I absolutely love skin care. I have oily, acne-prone skin so I'm very picky about what I apply to my face. I love the feeling of cool masks and the soothing fragrance they have. Lay down on your bed with a sheet mask on and think happy thoughts.

5. Get a massage

I often feel stiff and experience back and shoulder pain which makes sleeping uncomfortable at times or simply takes much longer to fall asleep. It's definitely worth going to a masseuse, sitting down on a massage chair, or getting a friend to massage your back, especially since the most tension tends to be upon your shoulders and back when we carry our backpacks and sit through classes the majority of the day.

6. ASMR

According to the National Sleep Foundation, ASMR, autonomous sensory meridian response, describes "a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds." Many of these videos are quiet, focusing on everyday sounds that we often do not notice which end up being quite calming. I discovered ASMR over the summer and found them interesting and effective for me such as tapping sounds. However, I DO NOT like eating/mouth sounds. Ew.

7. Go to bed with a good dream in mind

Close your eyes and think of something or someone that you love. Picture yourself where you want to be, somewhere where you will be stress-free with the people you want to be and let yourself dream of that place. I fall asleep to dreams of my family vacationing together, a job that I love, spending time with laughing babies, starting a clinic in Bangladesh, and all the hopes I want to accomplish in my lifetime. It's peaceful to dream of good things. Let yourself float into your fantasies.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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A Second Person Has Achieved Long-Term Remission Of The HIV Virus

A second man has had long term remission of the HIV virus.

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Over a decade after the first man, known as the Berlin Patient, was declared HIV-free, another patient may also be cured. Though it's too early for scientists to say for sure, the London Patient has been in a long term remission for around 18 months without the help of medication. Both men were treated with a bone marrow transplant. However, these stem cells carried a rare mutation in the genes that affect the production of the CCR5 protein, which HIV viruses latch onto to enter the cell. The virus cannot latch onto the mutated version of the protein, thus blocking its entry into the cells.

With the transplant of these HIV resistant genes, the body effectively builds a new immune system free of the virus.

After the Berlin Patient went into remission, scientists tried and failed to replicate the cure and were unable to until the London Patient, whose HIV count has reduced into undetectable numbers. While this is extremely helpful, bone marrow transplants are not a viable option to cure all HIV infected people, as it is an extremely risky process and comes with many side effects. Even so, scientists are developing ways to extract bone marrow from HIV infected people, genetically modifying them to produce the same mutations on the CCR5 gene or the inability to express that gene at all, and then replacing it back into the patient so they can still build resistance without the negative effects of a bone marrow transplant. There have also been babies whose genomes have been edited to remove the CCR5 gene, allowing them to grow up resistant to HIV.

This does not eliminate the threat of the HIV virus, however.

There is another strand of the virus, called X4, that uses the CXCR4 protein to enter the cell. Even if the editing of the CCR5 allows immunity against one strand, it is possible for a person to be infected with the X4 strand of the virus. Despite this, immunization against one strand could save a countless number of lives, as well as the vaccine that is currently in the stages of development for HIV. Along with the London Patient, there are 37 other patients who have received bone marrow transplants, six of which from donors without the mutation.

Of these patients, number 19, known as the Dusseldorf Patient, has been off anti-HIV drugs for 4 months. It may not be a complete cure, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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