Category Archives: Student Stories
I saw a meme the other day that made me both chuckle and think about my habits during my first semester as a graduate student. It was from a fellow classmate after we finished with our last final and it said, “Caffeine, you’re on the bench. Alcohol, suit up.” I’m sure it was funny to the majority of my classmates. It made me reflect on my study habits and my cycles of “self-medicating.” Both caffeine and alcohol are indeed drugs, legal ones, but too many people have developed a dependency on them.
I can remember a few tests this semester where I had more caffeine than I should have while studying. I knew skipping coffee on any day would make me feel unproductive. I associated mental arousal with that irresistible hot black beverage. I even went on a caffeine detox for a week and I felt horrible during the first couple of days.
After those tests were done, I often found myself wanting some sort of alcoholic beverage just to relax. I didn’t want to go to parties and binge drink my brain away, but rather enjoy the effects of a drink or two in solitude. See, my mind was so overstimulated from the caffeine that the depressive effects of alcohol seemed to balance it out. I needed one drug to counteract the effects of another. I thought I was being smart, only having one or two drinks on Friday evening. My mindset was “I’m old enough to legally drink; I’m doing so responsibly, there is nothing wrong here.”
Many will argue that caffeine and alcohol are fine in moderate amounts and in appropriate situations; however, I do believe we need to get out of the vicious substance controlled undulation of our state of minds. Instead of relying on caffeine to heighten our senses, we should be altering our lifestyles in a manner that brings more balance. Instead of unwinding with a drink after a week of taxing our minds with caffeine and dull textbooks, we should be seeking out positive and enriching experiences outside school. I’m not going to be giving up on my green tea anytime soon, but I will avoid using it solely as a means to be more attentive.
As I write this, I’m thinking about my bed and wishing the day was over so I could crawl into bed. However, when the time comes, sleep doesn’t come as easily as I would like. I toss and turn and sometimes count sheep before I finally doze off. Not only does it take a while to fall asleep, there isn’t a night that passes that I don’t wake up to use the bathroom. This drives me crazy. Research has shown direct connections to the importance of sleep and the effect on academic success. In order to get a good night sleep there are certain tips that should be followed.
• Keep a regular sleep schedule
It’s important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Try to sleep the same number of hours every day, at the same time. When I sleep for less than 7 hours a night – the next day is awful! I’m rundown, yawning, find myself thinking of bed and in general, I’m not a happy or friendly person. It messes up my day.
• Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, and reading a book are all examples of a relaxing bedtime routine. Activities that help tell your body it’s time to sleep and reduce stress and anxiety. Whenever I need to unwind, I take a warm bath and relax which ultimately makes me sleepy. Avoid activities like watching TV or homework right before bed because it can keep you awake by stimulating your mind. Even the bright light emitted from the television or computer can wreak havoc with your sleep. Turn off your electronics a couple of hours before bed to ensure they don’t ruin your rest. Give your brain a chance to wind down from the day.
• Get comfy
One thing about college is that controlling your sleep environment is very difficult. However, do your best to get comfortable. If you are in a residence halls with a noisy roommate, who stays up late with the light on, get eye masks and ear plugs. Ensure your side of the room looks appealing and relaxing. Finding comfortable sheets can create a pleasant bedtime experience, too. The room should be dark and you could do this by hanging up a black sheet around your bed or hanging up dark curtains. Keep the temperature down – it should be between 68-70F.
• Limit daytime naps to 10-30 minutes
No matter how tired I am I try avoiding naps during the day and when it’s absolutely necessary, never for more than 30 minutes, and ideally before 3pm. An early afternoon nap may help you get through your day.
• Turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before falling asleep
There have been numerous studies showing that using a light-emitting device before bed, like a phone, TV, or laptop, stimulates the brain, creating a false alertness and stimulation, making it harder to sleep. I usually try and turn off my phone or put it on silent and put it face down, even if it’s on, so I will not be disturbed by the light.
• Use your bed for sleep and sex only
I know this may be difficult to do especially when you are in the residence halls, but avoid using your bed for homework or other activities especially ones that cause stress and anxiety. This will help strengthen the association between your bed and sleep.
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime
I love drinking chocolate drinks, but I try to limit my intake after 4pm. This is because caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) is a stimulant and causes your body to be more alert. It can stay in the body for an average of three to five hours. Even if you don’t think caffeine affects you, it is likely to hinder your sleep quality. Although many people use alcohol as a sleep aid, it actually decreases sleep quality by increasing night time awakenings. This leads to a night of lighter sleep that is less restful. Nicotine is a stimulant, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. When tobacco users go to sleep, withdrawal symptoms can also cause poor sleep. Nicotine can also cause problems waking up in the morning and causing nightmares. Avoid nicotine 2 hours before bedtime.
If you want more information, please contact the Health & Wellness Hub on the main floor of the Memorial Union. Enjoy your sleep!
Many of us have uttered these words as we’ve walked out of Target trying to remember where we parked. Some of us may have said these words after a long night of partying hard. Although, driving after a party if you’re completely sober is fine, it is important to remember not to drive after you have had any amount of alcohol.
When people drive after drinking alcohol, the chances of a fatal car accident increase significantly. Nationally, a person is injured approximately every two minutes from alcohol related crashes and every thirty minutes someone is killed because of an alcohol related crash. On average, every weeknight between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., 1 in 13 drivers is drunk; between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., 1 in 7 drivers is drunk (www.dot.nd.gov). If you are caught driving after you have had a few drinks you may receive:
• A class B misdemeanor
• A fine no more than $500 if your BAC is below .1, or two day imprisonment and no more than a $750 fine if your BAC is .16 or greater
• Addiction evaluation
• A 91 day license suspension if your BAC is below 1.8 or a 180 day license suspension if your BAC is 1.8 or higher.
These are some pretty serious consequences for driving while intoxicated, and they just represent the first time you are caught drinking and driving. The second offense has much greater fines and restrictions. Fortunately, we have come up with an acronym to help you remember to be a little more prepared for a fun night without intoxicated driving.
Although you may feel and think you’re fine to drive after you have had some alcoholic drinks, the truth is that the consequences can be deadly. Don’t underestimate the power you have while you are drunk. You have the power to make a bad choice and potentially ruin someone’s life (or your own) and the power to make a good choice and have a safe night. It’s up to you. Last but not least, don’t forget that there are always alternatives to driving drunk, like having a designated driver take you and your friends home, calling a cab, or spending the night at the place you’re at (if it’s a friend’s house).
I have to say I’m pretty shocked my home state, Wyoming, legalized same-sex marriage on October 17th of this year. Before that, it was announced that Utah and Colorado, two other states I hold dear to my heart, also legalized same-sex marriages. The freedom for every couple to marry is becoming a reality! I hope that North Dakota won’t be far behind all of this. As I am typing this, there are 32 states allowing same-sex marriage, and that number is bound to increase in the following months. To mark the occasion, this post will be about same-sex-sex and some of the questions people may have on the topic.
What is LGBTQ?
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer. It has grown to encompass a wide group of people who don’t feel they belong in the heteronormative category. However, this term isn’t all inclusive as it leaves out various groups such as transsexuals, intersexes, asexuals, pansexuals, and many more. A lot of the other terms are included in the queer subset, as they don’t identify as a binary sexual subtype.
I’m a lesbian and have just become sexually active. Am I still at risk for STI’s?
Absolutely! Although transmission rates among lesbians tend to be lower, any time there is fluid transmission between mucous membranes, there is a risk. Also, if you happen to share any kind of sex toys, STI’s can be transmitted that way if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
I’m gay and want to be in a monogamous relationship but it seems that anyone else who is gay is promiscuous. Is there any hope for me?
Of course there is hope! Gay individuals are just as likely to want to be in a monogamous relationship as their heterosexual counterparts. Also, promiscuity has nothing to do with ones being gay or straight- what seems to be the problem here is ones perception of gay people due to a small minority that you’ve been in contact with.
I heard there is a pill that prevents HIV? Can I ditch the condoms?
A drug called PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, has been recently introduced that reduces the risk of contracting HIV infection in people by up to 92%. This is pretty significant and good for those in a high risk situation but let us consider a couple of things. The first thing is that condoms are both cheaper and more effective than PrEP. The second is that you have to be consistently taking PrEP for the medicine levels to be at an acceptable level in the blood. This isn’t something you can take right before a high risk activity and expect to be ok. There is also a post exposure drug (PEP) but these drugs are very expensive and are taken more than just once. While these preventative drugs are a good thing, don’t ditch the condoms just yet. Also, there are other STI’s that PrEP (and PEP) is completely ineffective with.
I heard that bi-sexuality is just a transitional phase for someone who hasn’t completely accepted that they are gay. Is there really such thing as bi-sexuality?
Yes, bi-sexuality is in fact a real thing and not a “transitional stage.” While there may be a time when some “explore” their sexuality, there are quite a large number of people who find themselves both sexually and emotionally attached to women and men. These individuals rightfully classify themselves as bisexual. So if you ever know anyone who calls themselves bisexual, just be respectful and don’t ask if they are ‘really just gay.’