Posted by: amandabru | April 15, 2012

The Zombie Apocalypse………..

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Walking around campus right now I am a firm believer that the Zombie Apocalypse is in fact real.  People are shuffling around campus with giant circles under their eyes.  Everyone is looking desperate to find answers, muttering to themselves or occasionally forming small alliances in clusters.  Students and Professors alike are clutching comfort foods like M&Ms, Cokes, and Cheetos.  People exit buildings with clammy pale expressions wondering if survival is possible.  Horrified looks are in every hallway and there are bodies slumped all over places like the library.  Everyone is wearing disheveled clothing needing to be washed.  People have clearly been forcibly thrown out of their apartments and are on the run in their pajamas to escape the Zombies.

………………………………………………..

Oh wait it’s just finals week.

This behavior is completely and totally normal.

Well, it is finals week or at least close to finals week for students at universities all over.  We all really do look like we are Zombies during finals week as we crazily try to conquer our finals in a sleep deprived state.  At the time when we students need the most sleep/health/sanity we always seem to chop sleep out of the picture. Why do we do this every single semester and how should we stop this apocalyptic practice?

Here are some useful suggestions for improving your health during finals week that I found in an article from U.S.News !

1. Plan time for sleep! Schedule it into your planner just like you would schedule a review session.  Schedule yourself a solid chunk of time for your night’s rest but also throw in some scheduled power naps if need be.

2. Take care of things like Laundry: Wash bedding and all the clothing you will want to wear during finals week the week before, this will leave you feeling more fresh for tackling those finals.

3. Exercise and eat even better during finals week then you may normally eat.  Yes the comfort snack foods are good in moderation, but its better to load up on your fruits and veggies (make your mom proud when you fill up that shopping cart the week before finals).  Exercising during the day will help you be able to rest when you get to lay down for your sleep at the end of the day.

4.  Use your Campus Resources! The times when you don’t want to be slumped over like a zombie on top of your textbooks go to the Library, sit in well lighted slightly chilly environment, or study with groups. Do not sit in bed to study, we all know where this leads…..to unplanned sleep!

Remember: Sleep tight, and don’t let the Zombies bite!

Posted by: amandabru | December 1, 2010

The Power of a Nap

When I was really little I remember hating the  idea of taking a nap and wishing I could do anything but take a nap, in high school I never took the  opportunity to nap even though I had the time, now as a college student I have come to adore and long for the days I have time to take even the smallest nap.  I have also discovered I can literally take a nap anywhere whether it be a table in the library, a sunny bit of grass, a carpeted hallway, or the living room floor.

The Power Nap

A power nap is a nap that last anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.  The goal of a power nap is to sleep before you hit the REM cycle of sleep so that you do not interrupt a regular sleep cycle, which would result in more grogginess and in feeling more tired than before you took the nap.  Power napping can actually enhance some memory tasks.  Studies have shown that even if you get the recommended amount of sleep at night, taking a quick daytime nap does improve mental performance, wow now that’s a great excuse to schedule myself some nap times!  A few of my friends took a class at BYU called Flexibility and in it they learned how to effectively power nap as part of the course.  One thing they learned was to lie in/on  a large enough area that you could be on your back with arms stretched out wide.  This would be really hard for me to do because I never can fall asleep on my back, I always fall asleep on my side or stomach.  I don’t think position really determines whether the nap is a power nap or just your average nap. I think finding a comfortable position for the individual is key!

The Longer Nap

Longer naps also increase mental performance and though it is impossible to “catch up on sleep” you are much better off when you take a nap after a night of little sleep than not napping.  In some cultures, especially Latino cultures and countries with warm climates,  there is nap time scheduled for the whole country.  This is often called a siesta.   Siesta time means the whole country, businesses included are closed for a few hours for people to go home, eat, and nap.  I could really get used to siestas!  I love naps that last for more than just 30 minutes, in fact if I had my way my naps would all be at least 3 hours long.  I try and nap on top of my bed with just a throw blanket over me instead of getting under the covers so that getting under the covers remains part of my bedtime routine.  I sometimes feel like these long naps are addicting because it is so easy to let myself take a nap by rationalizing that I need one since I took one the day before.

What are your napping tricks and practices?

Posted by: amandabru | December 1, 2010

The Princess and the Pea

The classic fairy tale the Princess and the Pea relates the story of a test to determine the future princess that involved mattresses.  The King and Queen determined that a true princess would not be able to sleep if a single pea was under a large stack of mattresses.  Many young women came from all over the kingdom but they all slept soundly on the stack of mattresses.  The last young women climbed up on the stack of mattresses and tossed and turned and could not get comfortable or sleep at all with that pea at the bottom.  When she came to see the king and queen in the morning she said she had slept awfully and she was the winner of the crown.  We all want to rest like princesses, at least I sure do. Some like a water mattress, some like a firm mattress, some like a soft mattress, and some like a mattress somewhere in between.  I personally added a 1 and a 1/2 inch thick memory foam pad to the mattress in my apartment but my ideal kind of a mattress would be more like a 3-5 inch memory foam layer of delight.

It is a fascinating phenomenon that there are so many mattress types and preferences and from what I can find it really is up to the individual’s choice with no specific or conclusive findings as to which type is the overall best kind of mattress.  There is no “one size fits all” which is awesome because I rarely believe that label.  Mattresses can help relieve back pain and interestingly enough, the mattresses people select for comfort tend to help with their specific kinds of back pain.  I really like the idea of the beds that you can change the firmness on either side, my grandparents have this kind and it is perfect for them because they like the complete opposite settings for their mattress.   Even though there is not one “right” mattress for everyone,  I did however find some excellent guidelines to aid in the process of selecting a mattress.  Always test a mattress in multiple sleeping positions: sides, back, and stomach.  Make sure the inner coils have enough support to curve to your back’s shape.  Happy mattress testing and may the most qualified princess win!

Posted by: amandabru | December 1, 2010

Pills for the Pillow

There are many medications/herbs that are for inducing sleep.  Are sleep inducing medicines good for us or are they bad for us, that is the question of the hour!  I myself have been so desperate for sleep on rare occasions that I have taken NyQuil simply to knock me out for the night which is probably not the best option.

Common Medicines for Sleeping:

  • Dalmane (Flurazepam)
  • Doral (Quazepam)
  • Halcion (Triazolam)
  • ProSom (Estazolam)
  • Restoril (Temazepam)
  • Klonopin (Clonazepam)
  • Ativan (Lorazepam)
  • Xanax (Alprazolam)
  • Ambien (Zolpidem)
  • Sonata (Zaleplon)
  • Lunesta (Eszopiclone, formerly known as Estorra)
  • Trazodone (Desyrel),
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil),
  • Doxepin (Sinequan).

Common Herbs/Supplements for Sleeping

  • Melatonin
  • Kava kava
  • Valerian
  • Chamomile
  • Passion Flower
  • California Poppy

Pros:

Many of these options work fast to get you to sleep and are great for insomniacs because they need that fast relief from being awake.  Herbal remedies are becoming more popular and accepted and generally have less side effects from their use.  Since the herbal remedies are still new, not many studies have proved them or the placebo effect to help with sleep induction.

Cons:

Most of these come with warnings that you should not use these for prolonged periods of time because they will create a dependence on the drug to fall asleep. These drugs have the tendency to also cause the user to build up a tolerance for them so that higher doses are needed to get the same affects.  Anything taken to an excess or extreme can have a negative impact.  Some of these drugs have a “hangover” effect that the users feel when they wake up from the medicinal started sleep.

So be careful with your medicine intake and I’d say try medicine to aid in sleep as a last resort to trying other tips for falling asleep!

Posted by: amandabru | December 1, 2010

The “Bear” Necessitites of Sleep

We humans are not the only ones who need our beauty sleep.   I have always been intrigued by the idea of hibernation as a form of sleep but I have not really understood how it is possible.  I know more animals than just bears hibernate but I am gonna focus my hibernation studies on bears for the present.  I have a roommate who always goes to bed early, sleeps in late, and never hears her alarm clocks beeping: she says she would happily hibernate year round if she had the option to.  Sometimes I think hibernation sounds just plain awesome! It would be phenomenal to sleep away all the cold days of winter and wake up to the beautiful springtime sunshine  instead of shuffle to class on icy sidewalks wearing my entire wardrobe to keep warm.

So what is hibernation exactly?  I have been lead astray all these years thinking it meant a whole season of sleeping.  In reality it patterns sleeping in parts but not entirely.  Hibernation is actually a mostly inactive, dormant stage, in which the metabolism is greatly slowed down to conserve heat and energy.  So parts of hibernation involves sleeping because that activity is slow and non-active but other parts of hibernation include eating from stores of food.  Hibernation cycles can last for days or they can last for weeks depending on when their systems need more food.   Its kind of cool that there are mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that share the abilities to hibernate.  So, even though I focused on bears’ hibernating, some other common hibernating animals are: rattlesnakes, bats, rodents, squirrels, and mouse lemurs. Could you “bear” the idea of hibernation?

Posted by: amandabru | November 7, 2010

A Case of the Munchies at Midnight

We all like to grab ice cream late at night every once in a while, and we do not always have the time to schedule dinner at a certain number of hours before we go to bed.  I am the first to admit that this week alone I think I have  eaten dinner after 8pm almost every night.  Last week I stayed up writing a paper and every couple of hours I ate something to try and help me stay awake. A lot of people have had questions regarding as to whether or not eating right before bed or very late at night is harmful to your health, particularly causing weight gain, so I decided to investigate the queries.

There are a ton of mixed findings on this subject and the best conclusion I can draw so far is that:  Sometimes eating right before bed affects weight gain, sometimes it does not affect weight gain, yeah oh so helpful, so here are some thoughts/findings on the issue:

“What kind of food do you crave late at night? ”  I’m pretty positive the majority of people don’t answer that question with “Gee I really want a salad, maybe some apple slices, etc.” Most people who snack late at night want prepackaged  and processed foods like cookies, ice cream, goldfish, etc.  Have you ever read the serving size for Oreos? Its supposed to be three cookies, but who really stops at three, don’t they mean three rows? If we munched on carrots before bed would the nutrients actually be helping our bodies verses adding extra calories?  Our bodies do digest food while we sleep, but they are also digesting during the day.  We don’t always eat the proper nutrition during the day, so eating a healthy snack before bed might actually improve our bodies’ digestion during our sleep.  So overall, it seems that its not if you eat before bed, but what you eat before bed  that can affect  (but really this is true for all your eating habits).

If you just cannot shake the munchies at night, or you find yourself waking up to eat in the middle of the night, you might be suffering from Night Eating Syndrome (NES). If you experience multiple of the following symptoms, you may want to see if you have this condition, symptoms including:  feeling anxious or guilty while eating, eating so much after dinner that there is no appetite for breakfast, and eating more food after dinner than the dinner portions.  This disorder is classified as one of the newer eating disorders but there is not a lot of research for it yet.   This condition is estimated to affect one to 2 percent of the population.  Research suggests that  a good  sign that you should see a professional regarding NES,  is if you feel you cannot, or cannot sleep without eating a snack right before going to sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Posted by: amandabru | October 11, 2010

When Counting Sheep doesn’t Cut it

I always find it frustrating when I lie down and cannot fall asleep.  It is especially frustrating when you know you are tired, have just had an exhausting day, and you are thinking about how tired you are as you are lying in bed.  When I was younger I would do the multiplication tables in my head and it would bore me and usually put put me to sleep by the time i reached the 4’s.  Now that I am in college, i often pick up my least favorite textbook of the semester and read it lying down, that sure does the trick and lets me sleep.  As great as these are I thought I’d look up some other ideas on ways to get to sleep.

Experiment with stress relieving exercises, like deep breathing, listening to calming music, and try not to think of the stressors in your life as you are getting into bed.  You should try not to exercise too close to going to bed because exercise actually wakes you up for up to 3 whole hours.  I am sure going to have to try this suggestion and schedule my work outs for earlier in the day because I usually go to the gym with my roommates later at night.  I always thought this nighttime exercise was good for wearing me out at the end of the day.  If you need a bedtime snack, eat foods high in carbohydrates and milk-based products, but don’t eat tons before bed because you don’t want your body to have to work extra hard to digest them! Good cookies and milk are still in for the ultimate bedtime snack!  Try getting up and doing something else briefly when you just cannot get to sleep.  For example you could: read a book, do a quick cleaning project, play a game, do some yoga poses, or anything that will distract you from thinking about not sleeping.  I thought this was an interesting idea to get out of bed to help you sleep better and I tried it last night and played Scrabble on my phone and it was a good way to focus.

The environment you sleep in seems to be one of the most important factors that are conducive to getting to sleep.  Lately my room had been a disaster of clothing exploding from my closet and I was constantly moving clothes from piles on the floor to onto my bed to sort them. It was not a peaceful environment, I had to watch my step when I got out of bed so that I didn’t land in my homework.  My desk was also an excavation project needing to happen so I cleaned my room yesterday as the first step to making my room more relaxing for slumber!  If there are lots of outside noises that penetrate your bedroom walls, like those of a college apartment, you should invest in a fan or some kind of white noise machine.  I have grown up sleeping to the sound of a fan and I highly recommend a fan to everybody to aid in falling asleep.  Another suggestion is to keep your room cooler so you can enjoy being in your covers because the recommended temperature for sleeping is about 65 degrees.  Make sure you have tested out different firmness in pillows to find which kind you like and the same goes for mattress testing.  Obviously we cannot just all go out and buy new mattresses to fit our preference, but there are affordable foam/feather/eggshell pads you can add to your bed.  Well all this sleep talk is making me drowsy, so sweet dreams for now!

It’s fascinating to hear  sleep ideas from others so please share the sheep counting tricks you use to fall asleep.

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