The Sleepy Student: How to Deal with Sleep Issues

August 16 2016

Jacqueline Rosenhek

 

 

Sleep, it helps our bodies recharge and it ensures us that we will be able to physically function the following day. When we achieve REM sleep, our bodies produce hormones that encourage the growth, development and repairs of the human organism. Sadly, many students, especially high school and university students seem to have issues with having a good night’s sleep! There are many reasons why this could be happening; increased workload, psychological stress, hectic schedules, spending too much time texting or on the computer until the earliest hours of the morning, too many stimulants or sometimes it could also just be a medical problem that can prevent someone from sleeping.

As previously mentioned, sleep does more than just help us feel rested the next day; it also helps your body continue to function. Poor sleep patterns will create a notable impact on the body. When we cannot sleep properly, or at all, our bodies have difficulty doing the tasks that it normally does when we do manage to get some proper sleep which can cause both long and short term problems such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased alertness
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Higher risk for heart attacks

 

There are many solutions one could turn to in order to fix most sleeping problems. Having a consistent bedtime routine is a very useful one, having a consistent routine will help the brain associate a certain hour or pattern with getting ready to fall asleep. Another is to stop looking at and turning off any screen based devices (televisions, computers, and cellphones) a couple hours before going to bed. One of our previous entries had discussed how the blue light from screens on our devices actually reduces melatonin (the hormone responsible for making us go to sleep) in our bodies and tricks us into thinking it is daytime. Having healthy eating habits also contributes to our sleep patterns. If someone’s diet consists of a lot of stimulants and sugar, they are far less likely to have a proper night’s sleep later on, especially if they regularly drink coffee or energy drinks throughout the day as many students are known to do. It is important to opt for a diet rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and protein during the day to help keep the mind alert and the body nourished. Creating a relaxing environment in your room (minimal lighting, comfortable temperature, minimal to no stimuli) could also prove to be beneficial, meditating before going to bed (check out the Montreal based app OMG I can meditate, during the day of course, not before going to sleep) could also add to the relaxing ambiance along with some deep breathing exercises. Doing physical activity, especially outside where there is fresh air and natural light on a regular basis also helps to stimulate hormones in the body that not only help reduce stress but will likely ensure a healthy night’s sleep. These solutions help fix or at least contribute towards getting rid of most sleep issues. However, sometimes a bit of extra help may be needed.

The problem with many pharmaceutical solutions for anxiety is that while they can be useful, they can also have really adverse effects like digestive issues, daytime drowsiness, weird dreams and it is also common for people to form a dependency on them. Natural alternatives such as valerian root, L-theanine or passionflower have not only been proven to work with insomnia, but helps in preventing stress during the day as well and they are not habit forming nor do they typically have negative side effects.  At the end of the day, proper sleep should be recognized a bit more for its health benefits. It’s not just for helping you focus more the next day, but for you to feel better too.

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