Tag Archives: Sleep

Senior year vs. freshman year

As I’m typing this, I have less than 50 days until graduation. I’ve been reflecting on my time here at Radford University and noticing many things have changed since that first year. College is a time of extreme growth and experiencing as much as possible, so no one leaves the same person they came in as.

What has changed between being a freshman and being a senior? Graphic by Katie Gibson
What has changed between being a freshman and being a senior? Graphic by Katie Gibson
  1. My style

When I was in high school, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing wet hair to school. Now, it makes an almost daily appearance. Along with rocking wet hair, my sense of fashion has sort of devolved. Although I lived on campus as a freshman, I would still get up no less than an hour before my class and make myself look presentable by wearing nice jeans and just trying to look human as possible. Nowadays, however, it’s nothing to throw on leggings and a big hoodie (with no bra, mind you) and run to class just minutes after awaking from my slumber.

Going out has also become much easier. As a freshman, my suite-mates and I would spend hours doing our hair and makeup and picking out outfits. We often wore high heels and short skirts out.

Now, I dress for comfort, not for looks. If I go out to a party in the winter, I’m bundling up. I once would freeze the most unmentionable parts of my body just to look cute. Now, I’ll throw on some leggings and a sweater and a quick face of makeup and head out the door.

High heels very rarely make an appearance these days.

  1. My sense of humor

As a freshman, being late to class was no laughing matter. Doing poorly on a test was completely unacceptable and I spent many nights crying into my homework. Now, when I walk into class lateI just smile at the professor and say, “sorry.” I’ve also trained myself to just laugh when I don’t get the test score I wanted, as opposed to crying about it. In college, you experience a lot of disappointment, and if you can’t laugh at it from time to time, you’ll fall apart.

After an embarrassing weekend of shenanigans, as a freshman I would spend all week awkwardly avoiding eye contact with the people I encountered throughout the weekend. Now, I just laugh at myself and move on. Sometimes that’s much easier than wallowing in self-pity.

  1. My study habits

One of the biggest accomplishments I’ve reached as a senior is finally learning how to study for my tests. It’s only taken roughly 17 years of schooling for me to finally find a way to study that actually resonates in my mind.

As a freshman, I would use hundreds of index cards and painstakingly mark each one with it’s appropriate definition or explanation. Now, I create my own study guides out of my notes. Not only does this save a lot of time, it also saves paper and my fingers from those sharp edges on note cards.

  1. My sleep schedule

This one is probably very obvious. College students don’t get nearly enough sleep, and sometimes it’s worth it. Between long weeknights spent in the library and long weekends with no rest, we have some of the worst sleep schedules on the planet.

As a freshman, I tried my best to get those 8 hours of sleep. Now, if I get more than 5 hours of sleep, it’s a good day. Running on little sleep can be exhausting but it’s rewarding once you realized that less sleep either means better grades or nights full of fun with your best friends.

  1. Formalities

Formalities become casualties by the time you’re a senior. What were once delicately put together emails with perfect punctuation are now brief sentences with little to no punctuation sent to my professor.

Having the title “professor” or “doctor” is intimidating at first, so you often feel like you have to be very formal when addressing your professors. But by your fourth or fifth year, you realize your professors are just people. It’s especially easy if your professor is younger or a graduate student. Even older professors who have been teaching for decades are really just people going to work, and will often work with you in ways you never thought possible.

One professor I had called me into her office one day over an issue I had with a project. I knew I was in trouble, as I had failed to make it to an important meeting. Although my professor was visibly irritated with me, she really just wanted to help me.

Your professors want what’s best for you. Although some professors seem to love to fail students, most of the time they want to be your friend and want to help you understand what you’re studying.

  1. Values

When I first came to school, I had never done any kind of drugs and I had only been drunk once, and I went into college not expecting that to change. I also came in as a Christian and am leaving as an Agnostic. Being sober and religious was the center of every decision I made coming into college. Now, I know that just because there are rules against something doesn’t make it bad.

Having fun with your friends isn’t a bad thing, even if it’s under the influence of alcohol. My religious beliefs once made me feel that to enjoy and partake in all the things around me was vain. I felt guilty going out and drinking cheap beer at parties, even though I wasn’t hurting myself or anyone around me. Now, that I’ve experienced the “Cannabis Culture” of Colorado, and found that I have a love for beer, I realize that enjoying these things isn’t bad. To live life wishing you had tried new things and regretting not living your life to the fullest, however, is bad.


College can be scary at times, but you grow so much in such a short amount of time. Along with what you learn in lectures and labs, you gain so much life experience that teaches you valuable lessons that can’t be found anywhere else. Enjoy and absorb every moment, but know you’re going to survive and you’ll be better for it.


Daylight Saving Time-related health risks

“Daylight Saving Time is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.”

The concept of Daylight Saving Time originated in 1784 from Benjamin Franklin, and it was first used in 1908 in Thunder Bay, Canada. Although the time change isn’t very popular, with online petitions trying to end it, it hasn’t gained any influence with politicians. It has been extended, repealed and reinstated over the years, but has been used essentially since 1908 in Canada.

A recent study discovered that the risk for stroke was at an 8 percent increase in the two days following Daylight Saving Time. Individuals older than 65 were 20 percent more likely to have a stroke during this time, while one in four individuals inflicted with cancer were more likely to have a stroke.

What are the affects of daylight savings? Graphic from Cattaraugas County
What are the effects of daylight savings? Graphic from Cattaraugas County

The team of researchers measured the risk of stroke in over 3,000 individuals hospitalized the week after Daylight Saving Time against the risk of stroke in over 11,000 individuals hospitalized two weeks before or after Daylight Saving Time.

According to Dr. Jori Ruuskanen, study author from the University of Turku, Daylight Saving Time may be a small adjustment, but it impacts entire countries twice every year.

Ruuskanen and his team will present their discoveries in April during the yearly gathering of the American Academy of Neurology in Vancouver, British Columbia.

These discoveries made by Ruuskanen and his fellow researchers aren’t the first that have warned of the possible dangerous results of Daylight Saving Time.

According to a study from 2012 at the University of Alabama Birmingham, the two days directly after Daylight Savings Time have additionally been correlated with a 10 percent increase in the rate of heart attacks.

Christopher Barnes, an associate professor of management at the University of Washington, studies the effect of lack of sleep, primarily in the workplace. Barnes is the author of a paper on public health policy recommendations, in which cited studies illustrate how Daylight Saving Time has been linked to multiple studies, which show its dangerous impacts on cognitive ability, health, and the workplace.

The paper co-written by Barnes and Christopher Drake, from the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital. The paper was published in the Perspective on Psychological Science.

The co-authors propose the elimination of Daylight Saving Time, arguing that based on how Daylight Saving Time has been connected to more auto accidents, workplace injuries, and can even inhibit moral decision making, removing it from our calendar would place an emphasis sleep health.

What lack of sleep does to you

Inadequate rest has both short and long-term consequences.

In the short term, not getting enough rest can influence judgment, state of mind, capacity to learn and hold knowledge, and may impact the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a large amount of health issues including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Weight Gain 

Lack of sleep slows your metabolism and expands your appetite. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to obesity if not treated rapidly enough.


When you’re tired, your emotions change, which can be normal. But if you’re chronically tired, you may have a more serious condition. If you feel like you may have insomnia or depression, see a psychiatrist who’s also a sleep specialist — so you can get the assistance you need.

Less than six hours of sleep per night impacts the genes that regulate anxiety and stress, according to a study from the University of Surrey in Guildford, England in February 2013. Try your best to de-stress before bed so you can fall asleep faster.

Change in your appearance

Absence of rest can make your skin dehydrated or dried out — and could bring about swollen, or dark circles under the eyes. Ensure that you drink lots of water, and possibly try a cup of chamomile tea an hour before you go to sleep. The tea is herbal and doesn’t contain caffeine, so it hydrates you and relaxes you. Apply facial lotion and eye cream, which will also prevent your skin from drying out.

“Not getting enough rest can influence judgment, state of mind, capacity to learn and hold knowledge.” Photo by: Danielle Johnson. Photo of: Kristinia Contreras

Affected abilities

Sleep deprivation influences your capacity to learn and remember new knowledge. Try going to bed at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning — yes, even on weekends. You can still have your cup of coffee in the morning, too.

Higher risk of sickness

If you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to get sick. Your immunity lowers while your susceptibility to illness increases and your body produces fewer antibodies in response to lack of sleep.

The majority of us need around eight hours of quality sleep a night to function properly — some may require more and some may require less. Strive for eight hours of un-interrupted sleep, if you wake up tired and want to go back to sleep, you may still not be getting enough sleep.

If you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, consult your local physician or psychiatrist.

Just breathe

The middle of the semester is in full swing. The stress of exams and grades is rolling in. We all need to take a step back and just breathe. We tend to get caught up in the stress during this time. It may fall on us like an avalanche, or trickle in like drops. Regardless, stress affects everyone in one way or another, and that is okay. Here are some reasons not to stress as we get over the hump of the semester.

stress ball
“Is your lack of sleep catching up to you and stressing you out? Taking care of your body is more important than any amount of work will be.”

You are here for a reason, and you have earned your place! Don’t forget that, because you DO belong without a doubt. You may feel out of place, and that may stress you out, but finding friends and groups that you connect with is easier than it may seem. We have so many clubs, organizations, and students, and finding your niche may take a few tries, but you will find your campus family with a little searching. So don’t stress, because it will come! And if it’s missing your family and home that’s stressing you out, maybe you will head home during an upcoming weekend. Remember that Thanksgiving break is just around the corner! You can keep a countdown to build the excitement, call or text to stay caught up, and don’t worry!

Is your lack of sleep catching up to you and stressing you out? Taking care of your body is more important than any amount of work will be. Sleep is essential to guarantee the well-being of your mental and physical health. Staying up late, consuming large amounts of caffeine, and trying to study or work are bad combinations and will actually raise the chance of performing poorly on tasks. According to Harvard studies, sleep deprivation can lead to many health problems, and can actually cause you to have a feeling of stress. A well-rested mind works more efficiently, and will actually help you manage and deal with stress. So for tonight, set aside your books, and get a good night’s sleep (6-8 hours preferably). Your mind and body will thank you for it in the morning, and it may alleviate some of your stress.

Did you get your midterm back, and not receive the stellar grade you were hoping for? Or did you walk out of an exam full of dread that you bombed it? This may be the most important time to step back and breathe.  You may feel like the world is crashing down and that this is going to affect you terribly, but please trust that it is okay. If it does turn out poorly, it isn’t the end of the world, and if it truly is going to negatively affect you, you could look into using one of your withdrawals if needed. Grades aren’t everything, they don’t define you. They don’t make or break you.

So breathe. Don’t stress. You’ve got this.


Why your dog is your best friend


girl and dog
“Everyone has a best friend, mine just happens to walk on all fours and have fur all over.”

Everyone has a best friend, mine just happens to walk on all fours and have fur all over. Yes, my dog is one of my best friends. It sounds a little strange to say, but if you think about it it’s undeniably true.

When you want to be lazy one day and just lay around and do nothing, your dog is more than happy to keep you company. They will curl up next to you and snuggle while you binge-watch Netflix and they won’t leave your side all the unproductive daylong. What could you want more than a sweet furry friend to enjoy a good television series with?

Another thing your dog is great for is telling secrets to. If you have something you need to get off your chest or just say out loud to someone, your dog is the perfect one to tell. Not only will you feel better because you confided in someone you truly care about, but you know that it would never get out to anyone either. They may stare blankly at you while you tell them, but that’s okay because at least you got it out of your mind.

Sleeping is another thing dogs are overly willing to do. You’re pulling an all nighter and you can’t go to sleep until 2 am? Your dog will wait for you to be done and then cuddle on up in bed with you after you’ve studied for endless hours. You had a rough day and just want to go to sleep at 8 pm that night? Your dog’s already waiting in bed for you to join them.

My dog is my best friend because I can tell her anything, I can be lazy with her as many times a week as I want, and I’m comforted knowing I get to cuddle up at night with her by my side. She’s a loyal and loving best friend that I’m so thankful to have in my life.

A guide for being sick in college

Being sick at college is no fun. Graphic from Doctors in Training
Being sick at college is no fun. Graphic from Doctors in Training

Your health is more than just the physical condition of your body. In the past two weeks, every student on campus seems to be catching an unwelcoming sickness. Being sick in college is not pleasant; you don’t have anyone to take care of you and make you food. And living in college means living with germs! I was sick this past week and it was so hard to get out of bed for every 8am or 9am class and last Friday, I heard every student sitting behind me in my COMS 130 class coughing or sneezing. It was horrible and I’m scared to get close to anyone! Work piles up as you stay in bed and that’s not fun either. But at some point, every college student is going to get sick. Here are some tips I have for you from experience, if you’re sick with the Radford plague:

  1. Go to the Student Health Center in Moffett Hall and ask for a cold kit (this was a lifesaver for me) and most importantly– it’s free.
  2. Drink lots of fluids and get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Stay away from anyone who’s sick as well and keep hand sanitizer with you in your backpack at all times.
  4. Grab some chicken noodle soup from the Au Bon Pain cafe since your mom can’t make you any, and trust me it’s delicious! Remember to eat healthy.
  5. Stay prepared with your medicines and cough drops.
  6. Try to avoid sharing personal items and keep your room clean.
  7. And lastly, if you’re going to miss a class, let your professor know beforehand!

The best way to treat illness is to prevent it! Also, in my opinion, it’s okay for students to take it easy when they’re sick, don’t stress too much otherwise it’ll be harder on you to get better. Not only is it important to get well and ready to college again but to not hurt any other student’s health. I hope the ones not sick can manage avoiding the plague.

Follow these tips to tackle your sickness and don’t forget to stay warm!



Ways to destress during the first semester of college

Having control of your work can make a whole lot of difference in your stressful college life. First semester can be chaotic because you’re starting new, and you don’t know what you have to face and the upcoming challenges are just going to get harder. Many students say the first semester is easy, at the beginning you put yourself out there but then you have to maintain good grades, keeping up with assignments, clubs or other outside activities. The key to having a more stress-free semester is to organize your work.

tea not blurry
“A piece of advice for everyone is to do what pleases you, which helps you relax.”

Don’t put work off! Doing things on the day you get it is the best way to stay organized and not be overwhelmed by all the work piling up and set a goal for yourself each night. If you accomplish all the work you have set for yourself in one night, don’t try to overdo yourself and do more. Relax, breathe and take time for yourself. Understand that everything can’t be done within one day. Another important thing to do is to keep an agenda. Try to stay on top of things by being punctual. School shouldn’t be stressful and only you can have full control over that.

Some things you can do to destress include doing things you enjoy more often. Talk with your friends, go watch a movie, read your favorite book again, or try new places on campus you haven’t been to yet. Basically, do anything non-educational.

Also, one more thing that works great is to get enough sleep. Staying up all night is a deadly sin if you have an 8 am the next day. You’ll be much happier and energetic in class if you receive at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night.

Every student has a different way to destress in college and they have different goals, not everyone will be on the same education boat. A piece of advice for everyone is to do what pleases you, which helps you relax. Listen to music while studying, or go to the library for quiet, just set your mind free.

Survival of the studious

Look at your calendar. We have less than three weeks left in the semester. Unless you’re a senior, eagerly counting down the days till graduation, this thought may come as a surprise to you. And if you’re anything like me, it’s a little alarming.

With a limited number of classes left, professors seem to be piling on the assignments, squeezing in last-minute tests and lectures before the final. Deadlines are looming, work’s piling up, and procrastination is becoming a riskier maneuver. But try not to panic, and follow these tips to ease the journey to hell week.

  • Make a calendar

If you don’t already keep track of assignments through a daily planner, START ONE TODAY. Even if you have a great memory and don’t have much trouble keeping track of school deadlines, write it all down. You don’t even have to buy a planning book; just print out a few weekly planner sheets with space below each weekday to list all your due dates, meetings, and other things that need to be done. It’s easy to forget something when you have so many extra things to remember, so prepare with an updated calendar.

  • Schedule out your time

    Are you spending your time wisely? Graphic from Pinterest
    Are you spending your time wisely? Graphic from Pinterest

With a calendar to aid you on when things are due, make sure you get those things done. Schedule time every day to get duties finished, and not just the day before something’s due. Create a daily list with a (reasonable) amount of work that you want to get done that day, and cross off assignments as you finish them. Separating out the work will help you from feeling overwhelmed by the overall amount.

  • Naps are your friend

It may be hard to find a solid chunk of time to sleep at night during this time, and barreling through schoolwork can be exhausting. To help with this, try taking brief (30 minutes or so) naps throughout the day. This can rejuvenate you between study sessions and give you more energy.

Just make sure you aren’t sleeping too much.

  • Meet with your teachers

Talk to your professors about any content you are still fuzzy on, and make use of their office hours. Discussing your questions and concerns with your teachers is beneficial, and shows them that you are dedicated to doing well in the class. Don’t wait until the day before the test to say you don’t understand something, because by then, it’s too late–and they’ll have no pity on you.

  • Take care of yourself

Most importantly, take care of yourself. If you are stressed out of your mind and aren’t nourishing your body, you’ll feel worse. A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. So take time between work to relax and take deep breaths. Also be sure to eat healthy foods for more energy, and hydrate with lots of water to reduce headaches and improve thinking.

Highlanders Anonymous: The how-to edition

“How can I spend less money?”

The number one way to save money (according to no real statistics) is to make a budget. I’m not just talking about a yearly or monthly budget either. No. I mean a weekly and daily budget. If you want to have control over your hard-earned money, you’ve got to strategize.

You can be strict with your budget and have fun too. The best way is to be realistic. If you know you’re going to buy food at school and go shopping every Friday,factor those things in. Making a plan doesn’t mean you can’t do things. What you can do is be more informed, so you’ll know how much you can spend at the mall. Budgeting is smart, no matter how old you are. This will reduce a lot of stress in your life. Knowing your limitations is important.

“How can I learn to cook for myself?”

There are many ways to learn how to cook. I suggest finding the most fun way for you. You can watch cooking shows, if you’re a visual learner and want some inspiration. Another way is to buy a cookbook or look at recipes online. Follow the instructions exactly if you’re not sure what you’re doing. You can improvise after you’ve got the basics down. Cook alone or with friends, whichever suits you.

“How do I get a good night’s sleep?”

Be aware of your health and state of mind. It may be harder to fall asleep if you have a lot on your mind. To wind down, you should get away from electronics and bright screens that stimulate your brain and keep you awake. I suggest reading a book, conveniently placed near your bed. Also, make sure not to eat too close to bed–it’s not good for your metabolism! Make yourself comfortable and relaxed.

“How do I learn a new language?”

To learn a new language, there’s nothing better than practice. The more time you put into learning the basic structure of a language and practicing  vocabulary, the better results you’ll see. Although it can be a struggle at first, try and integrate this new language as a part of your daily life. The more the language is used practically in your day to day, the easier it’ll be to remember to go back and work on your weaknesses and get better. Another really helpful thing is to speak to native speakers of the language. You can do this through language-learning sources, online or you can even get a pen pal.

Highlanders Anonymous: Go to sleep!

What do I do when everything is too much and I probably have to quit something?

First of all, don’t panic! We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Quitting may end up being the best option for you — but to cool off, how about to looking at all your options? Make a pros and cons list. What would be good about you quitting versus staying in your present situation? Only you can answer those questions. Answer them as honestly as possible and you’ll find out what works best for you. You might also want to consider what outside factors are pushing you to quit.

I’m really behind on my papers! I can’t seem to get organized. What do I do?

I’d say that you have a case of procrastination only gets worse with time. Try using an assignment book and plan out times when you can work on your papers. Make sure to keep those times open so that you don’t keep getting behind. There are many other tools to help you get organized. You always have the option of using your phone to set alerts and keep your calendar organized. There are also many free resources online that can help you with scheduling, as well as good old-fashioned spreadsheets. Remember that schedules aren’t always easy to enforce and it takes time to get used to them, so don’t veer off course by ignoring your schedule right at the start.

“It is hard to have a regular sleeping schedule while trying to find balance with all the craziness.”

My friends think I drink too much coffee and I’m trying to cut down, but I can’t even stay awake without it. How can I get more energy?

 To get more energy, you need more sleep! It’s hard to have a regular sleeping schedule while trying to find balance with all the craziness. There are few things that are going to keep you from falling apart this semester. A human body can go through some crazy things and still survive –but without sleep, you’re doomed. You won’t be able to focus as well in class or give your all on homework if you aren’t well rested. Don’t forget that a well-balanced diet will go a long way in keeping you energized.

 How do I make friends? I’m new in this town and school.

 The best strategy for being involved with others is becoming more involved in school life. There are many clubs, sports, and other organizations you can join to meet new people and have fun. Don’t forget that volunteering or getting a job will also introduce you to others. If you happened to miss the most recent club fair, don’t fret. You can still contact clubs and go to meetings through your RU Involved app on the school website.


Superpower: Sleep

Sleep is a wonderful thing. As a college student, sleep is essential to achieve everyday goals . If you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, you can barely function. Everyday tasks become more of a chore and less about fun.

The exact function of sleep is baffling. Why do we need it? Does sleep have to occur on a constant schedule? Can we survive without it? The answers to these questions vary from person to person. Continue reading Superpower: Sleep

Skincare tips for the sleep-deprived

Are you perpetually sleep-deprived like the majority of college students nowadays?

If the answer is “yes,” your skin probably isn’t in the best shape. Dark circles, inflammation, bloating of the face and dullness are all symptoms of sleep-deprived skin. Here are some tips to deal with these symptoms and look your best. Continue reading Skincare tips for the sleep-deprived

How to survive an 8 a.m. (without more sleep)

The obvious solution to the drudgery of an 8 a.m. class is going to sleep earlier — but let’s be real here. Most college students are lucky if they go to sleep by midnight. Dividing your time between a job, a social life and schoolwork leaves very little time for more “optional” things like sleeping and eating healthy. While more sleep is definitely recommended, most college students will admit that it’s also highly unlikely. With that in mind, here are some tips to get a good grade in that early morning class. Continue reading How to survive an 8 a.m. (without more sleep)

Balanced body, balanced you: Tips to a happier and healthier lifestyle

Like many students at Radford University, I took a vow for the new year to improve my body. I decided instead of losing that gut or those thunder thighs, I would instead work on my thumbs. I don’t know how to explain this, but ever since I upgraded to a iPhone, my thumbs have also gained some extra pounds. I can no longer just hit the “b” key; I end up hitting the “lyuf” key. Whenever I text someone “want to hang out,” I always end up sending “eant yo hang oup?” These mistakes I blame upon my overweight thumbs.

A thumb that does not stay on just one button. Image from Creative Commons.
A thumb that does not stay on just one button. Image from Creative Commons.

In all seriousness, many students have started the trek of losing weight or trying to improve themselves. In my opinion, one must follow five easy rules in order to succeed into looking like a less-hot Megan Fox. Continue reading Balanced body, balanced you: Tips to a happier and healthier lifestyle

Highlanders Anonymous: Hangover cure dos and don’ts

The day after a night of drinking may not be as fun as the night before.  Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Q: What is the best way to cure a hangover?

A:  There is no real cure for a hangover. However, there are a few remedies you can try to help ease the pain you may be feeling. Continue reading Highlanders Anonymous: Hangover cure dos and don’ts