The True Value of Sleep

When is it better to go to bed and when do we get the best quality sleep? After scouring the internet for hours, I’ve found that it’s best to go to sleep as early in the evening as possible. Multiple sources and studies (Check out this one and this one) have confirmed this, and I have made a little chart based on what I’ve found.

Value of Sleep

It is also important to consider how you natural body clocks work and the cycles that you sleep through (called the REM/Non-REM sleep cycles). I’ve written a little bit about those already (and here), but basically the key is to not interrupt your sleep. If you do have to wake up even though you haven’t gotten your recommended 8 hours, it’s alright as long as you wake up in between the 90-minute cycles. Here is how they look like if you go to  bed at 10 pm :based on this schedule, it’s easier to wake up at 11:30, 1 am, 3:30 am, 4 am, 5:30 am, etc):

sleepcycles

That being said, this doesn’t mean that you will feel as feel as if you slept the full night. This only implies that it will be easiest to wake up at those 90-minute increments. To feel fully rested, it’s best to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

If you are interested, here are some great apps I was recommended:

  • Sleep Cycle – a super fancy app that tracks your brain activity while you sleep, analyzes it and even works as an alarm. Available for iPhone and Android
  • Sleepy Time – doesn’t work as an alarm yet, but can calculate the approximate time when you have to wake up or go to bed based on what time you go to bed/wake up.

Off to get my beauty sleep now!

study hack just kat

Studying When Sick

Sick!

I get sick at least 3 times a year (good old Seattle rain and wind), and all I do during that time is sleep and nap and feel pretty miserable. Of course, no work gets done at that time, and grades suffer. I’ve done some research and compiled a few ideas on how to keep yourself together while studying.

Obviously, to feel better sooner we need to drink a lot of water, rest, drink a lot of water and some medicine. In my opinion, if you’re going to avoid doing homework (which you should, nothing good will stay in your head if you study in such a bad condition), it’s best to work ahead a little bit. I discovered that reading all my textbook chapters on the weekends significantly reduces the homework load on the weekdays.

a) Start studying for exams at least a week in advance. You don’t know what’s gonna come up in the last couple of days before an exam, and the last thing you want to do is fail because you simply didn’t feel very well. Read the book a week in advance (I found that it helps me feel less stressed, too), and do future homework as early as possible.

However, if the “sick study” situation does happen,

b) Break big study plans into small, 15-30 minute chunks. Don’t overwork yourself, it might make things worse.

c) Do the easy tasks that don’t require much thinking/memorization. For example, write, make flashcards, rewrite your notes, etc.

d) Get lots of sleep when you can. That’s the best way your body heals itself and if you overwork it, you’ll only feel worse on the test day.

Hope this answers your questions. Again, these are just my ideas and suggestions, there are obviously other things you can do to focus a bit better. If there’s something you’d like to add, comment below!

Stress Relief

Some notes on stress relief: how to deal with test anxiety and long-term stress.

More on relaxation and sleep: meditation , Best time to sleep at night, Power naps, more on sleep cycles.

(Learned this today in BioPsych lecture (Dr. Lauren Graham)).

More Sleep Cycles

More about sleep cycles! Talk about the best time to wake up and the importance of sleep

There are 2 “modes” of sleep: Slow wave sleep and REM sleep.

Slow Wave Sleep is super deep and is hard to interrupt. When you wake up during this phase, you don’t feel rested and are tired for the rest of the day.

REM sleep is lighter sleep, so it can be easily interrupted. A bonus to waking during a REM phase: remembering your dream and feeling energetic.

*** Don’t forget to participate in our giveaway! It ends on May 16th ***

Sources: The Mind’s Machine- my BioPsych textbook (graph). Dr. Lauren Graham- lecture on sleep rhythms and cycles.

Edit: I want to make a comment on the graph:

  • During the pink “awakening” times is when your REM cycle ends. That’s when you wake up in the middle of the night for a couple minutes and then fall back asleep
  • REM Cycles repeat roughly every 90 minutes, but it may vary slightly. If you wake up during the REM phase, you’re guaranteed to feel more energetic even if you slept a bit less than recommended (8 hours)
  • Check out the app Sleepytime for more information and how to calculate your wake up time!

On Meditation

MEDITATION: it can help you relax, improve concentration and even your mood! Doesn’t take too long and can be done at any time/place.

-Last time I was waiting for a ride on a bus stop for just about 5 minutes, and took that time to relax :) I was so calm afterwards!

Everyone can do it differently, but the key is to relax and try not to think of anything.
1) Take a comfortable position and put on some gentle, calming music
2) Close your eyes, straighten up. You can lean against a wall.
3) Let your thoughts come and go. If something starts to bother you, think “I can totally do it later, it can wait.”
4) Only 5-10 minutes a day is all it takes!

Here are some sources and more info on that: 1, 2
For beginners: 1 2
Some music: 1 and Songza and Spotify

 

The Power of Naps

Power Naps are a great way to boost your energy in the middle of the day!

If you are feeling drowsy and tired and still have a ton of homework to do, take a 20-30 minute power nap! It doesn’t take too much time and helps increase productivity.

1. They are most effective if they last 15-20 minutes;
2. They are good of alertness and motor performance
3. BETTER than caffeine. Caffeine just postpones your fatigue, while power naps actually get rid of it.

Best time of day to take a nap: 1-3 p.m. If taken after 4 p.m., you may disturb your sleep at night.

Sources + More Info: 1, 2, 3

Happy napping!

Yoga for Eyes

A set of exercises to help relax your eyes. This would be helpful during a long study session when your eyes are all red and hurting. Do each exercise for 2-3 minutes every couple of hours, it was it will only take you 10 minutes max- a nice short break!

eyes 1 eyes 2
eyes 3