Bonne Nuit!

Rachel napping as a childThis is the time of year when coffee intake increases and the sleep schedule seems to be put on the back burner as a general trend in the student population.

I’ve made a promise to myself this year to commit to getting an adequate amount of sleep (as much as I possibly can) and committing to making a big effort to budget my time and tasks to allow this to happen.

Personally, it has made a world of difference to how I perform in both school and athletics.

Falling into the trap of consistent late nights and all-nighters to get school work done is quite easy through procrastination, wanting to get an extra grade boost, or being distracted by Netflix or social media. It has been proven that getting some extra shut eye might have more benefit than cramming in that extra few hours of work late into the night.

“Sleep is the single most under-rated performance enhancer.  It’s not expensive and it doesn’t hurt to do it. It just takes discipline. In the last few years, there has been an explosion of research showing sleep to be both a cognitive and physical performance enhancer – great for academics and for sport,” said Dr. Trent Stellingwerff, exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist at the Canadian Sports Institute.

Whether you are an athlete or not, sleep is vital for functioning at your best. In a time when the flu bug is going around, you should be doing everything you can to keep your health and avoid being bedridden with illness. A study showed that those with over eight hours a night were significantly less likely to catch the common cold. Another study proved that adequate sleep resulted in higher cognitive functioning.

Rachel napping“Athletes in training cannot cram for a competition. They need to train daily and get consistent sleep in order to recover, regenerate muscles and get stronger. The same approach is best for studying,” said the Canadian Sports Institute Mental Performance Consultant, Danelle Kabush. “Use your time well and study with quality every day and let your brain recover and consolidate memories the best way possible – with a healthy amount of sleep every night!”

In conclusion? Good sleep = sharp thinking.

Here are some tips for getting better and more consistent sleep:

1. Get away from the screens! It takes a bit of self control. The bright lights from your cell phone or lap top increase your brain activity which is less than ideal right before you doze off. Try as best you can to unplug an hour before bed. While this may seem unreasonable or inconvenient at times, at least avoid the last minute social media scroll while you’re lying under the covers right before you pass out.

2. Stretch, meditate or read right before bed. It’ll help you unwind and calm down. I have made a commitment to do this every night and it makes a world of difference.

3. Make a list of the tasks you have for the next day. It helps avoid the fretting and feeling like there is something you are forgetting, with the peace of mind that everything you need to think about will be right there in front of you when you wake up.

Sweet dreams!

Rachel

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