After weeks of studying late at night and going out, you may find yourself with puffy eyes and blue bags resting beneath them. Cosmetics do exist to treat these symptoms (sometimes even your glands may get swollen) – but they offer only temporary relief. Exhaustion is truly to blame for the puffy eye look; the healthiest way to alleviate the signs of physical stress is sleep. Unleash your natural beauty by catching some ZZZs and letting your muscles and body unwind.
Sleep is underrated—especially at college. You may not feel the ramifications of lack of sleep after one all-nighter, but the body will inevitably need to compensate for the lost hours of sleep. A typical person needs about 7-8 hours of sleep a night. The body will eventually crash after losing out on multiple hours over a couple of days. Research now indicates that the higher mental functioning of a sleep-deprived individual (less than 5 hours of sleep a night) resembles that of a drunk person.
With sleep deprivation, your body endures physical stress to stay awake. The long-term stress stimulates hormones such as cortisol to circulate in the blood. The effects of cortisol are increased appetite (your body will crave sugar as an alternate energy source) and increased blood pressure. If you feel as though you hit the hay the second your head hits the pillow- your body is exhausted. Typically, the body should allow it’s self about 20 minutes to relax and ultimately doze off.
The other culprit behind lack of sleep? Alcohol. Alcohol inhibits the deep levels of sleep that supply your body with the energy it needs to get through the day. Alcohol causes “fragmented” sleep, in which you wake once the alcohol has left the liver. If you tend to sleep a normal amount of time with alcohol in your system, don’t be fooled – you will still wake up groggy. Alcohol still has inhibited your necessary and deep level of sleep, known as the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle. On a normal night’s sleep we enter a REM sleep four times, for 45 minutes each. With alcohol still in our system we do not attain REM sleep, no matter how long we lie in bed.
Give your body the relaxation it deserves. Here are tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:
1. Make the bedroom your sanctuary. Allow the bed to become a place of relaxation by only listening to music, watching tv, or talking while tucked in. Although this has not been scientifically proven yet, the mind will associate your room as a place of tranquility and an easy place to relax. If you normally associate your room with hectic studying or intense note taking, you may feel anxious or stressed when trying to fall asleep.
2. Allow for one hour of relaxing activity before attempting to fall asleep. Some watch television and like to doze to the background noise but the light from the screen may serve as a stimulus to keep you awake, but it’s a preference. Try meditation or yoga. Or just pull a twentieth century and read a book.
3. Don’t drink caffeine after 5 o’clock. Just a rule of thumb, try not to drink coffee too close to nighttime. Your body naturally winds down around 4 in the afternoon because of its circadian rhythm. This fact is reflected by your response to the darkening of light and natural feelings of fatigue after a long day.
4. Exercise. Scientists have found that going to the gym around 5 o’clock is strategic for your daily patterns. First, stress accumulated throughout the day will be alleviated, since your body will experience an adrenaline rush. The resulting endorphins will release energy and make you feel great. After a few hours, your body will start to wind down and by the time night falls you will be able to sleep easily. If you work out late at night, your adrenaline may still be pumping and not allow you to fall asleep.
5. Figure out how YOU sleep best. Some like complete darkness, background noise, the door open, etc. Try it out and see how you fall asleep easiest. Make it a routine to have it set the way you like it and your roommates will be sure to hear you snoring down the hall.
By Nikki Pepperman