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!
This week the Health & Wellness Hub will be having a display case in the Memorial Union in honor of education about drunkorexia.
Drunkorexia is a slang, non-medical term that refers to a person or persons who excessively restrict their food calorie intake in order to make more room for the calories of alcohol. Many do this in a number of different ways, but in most cases it involves purging. A number of studies have shown that 30% of women between the ages of 18 to 23 restrict their calories throughout the day in order to make more room for calories from alcohol. This is a new and shocking discovery considering the known risks that this can involve. These behaviors often occur from the fear of weight gain from both drinking and eating. Often times this is seen in college-aged women, but on the other hand, it can also be seen in men. Too often, in many extreme cases, this can be related to medical terms such as anorexia and or bulimia. In such extreme cases vomiting is mostly seen, and alcohol is used to make that process easier.
Combining both binge drinking and eating disorders can have a huge impact on one’s health. These are some of the risks associated with this behavior:
• Drinking on an empty stomach increases the rate at which alcohol reaches the blood stream, your blood alcohol content (BAC) will be raised quickly and self-control will decrease.
• Binge eating may also be experienced because the person is extremely hungry and may be unable to control their urges.
• Purging often follows after these spurts of binging on food.
• Reducing food caloric intake puts a person at risk for not getting the nutrients needed to function properly.
Ways to find balance and stay healthy:
• Moderation instead of elimination: Eating throughout the day and making sure to have three meals a day and plenty of healthy snacks, can help prevent excessive hunger and overeating. This can also help oneself manage their alcoholic beverages with the addition of nutrients in the system.
• Knowing your own limits: Make sure to plan ahead so you are able to manage your alcohol intake. Keep in mind that binge drinking is considered to be 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting. Also, make sure to keep track of the amount of drinking that you are doing throughout one sitting. Alternate water or non-alcoholic beverages in between alcoholic beverages.
• Seek Support: Seeking support, understanding, and advice from loved ones who support a healthy lifestyle can help you get on track as well. Even though drunkorexia is not a medical term and there may not be many support groups, there are groups that do support those with specific eating disorders and alcohol abuse and these together can help one get on the right track when seeking a healthier lifestyle.
“Drunkorexia?” Drunkorexia. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
It is hard to believe that spring is here (literally). With the start of a new season means different fruits and vegetables are in season as well. As far as fruits and vegetables go, spring is considered to be March, April and May. When a fruit or vegetable is in season it means is at its peak of flavor or harvest. Not only will the flavor be optimal the price will be the cheapest. Next time you head out to the grocery store be sure to try some of the following items that are in season right now!
Remember, you can enjoy the taste of any fruit or vegetable year-round by using fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice – it all counts!
Red Leaf Lettuce
Spring Baby Lettuce
Coming to the end of February means that National Nutrition Month is just around the corner. Every March is National Nutrition Month and every year UND celebrates March with many nutrition related activities. This year UND is offering a recipe contest, Student Iron Chef, Lunch and Learn, food drive, grocery bingo, and a wellness screening.
The Delicious and Nutritious Recipe Contest will be going on the majority of the month. The recipe submission deadline is March 21; to find out details about this event click on the following link.
Student Iron Chef Contest Semi-final dates of the competition are March 3rd and March 4th. The final competition will take place on March 11th. Groups of students will be creating a dish consisting of Alaskan Salmon, YUM.
A food drive will take place for the whole month of March. Non-perishable food items and personal care products are appreciated. Donation boxes will be placed throughout the campus.
Grocery Bingo will take place on March 28th at 9pm in the loading dock. It is free to all students and it’s a great way to win free groceries and meet students.
A lunch ‘N learn will be held on March 26th in Gamble Hall from 12:30pm to 1:30pm in room 225. This event is part of the Deans for wellness initiative; it is open to all staff, faculty, spouses and partners of the College of Business and Public Administration. You can RSVP to this email:
The wellness screening will be held at the EERC on March 5th. It is open to faculty, staff, partners and spouses. This is an appointment only event to make an appointment click the following link.