Something Came Up | Issue 25

Something Came Up | Issue 25


The exam cycle is coming around again — following closely will be a nudge up in the average level of stress throughout North Dunedin. It seems like two out of every three students have that haunted look, as if the grim invigilator is two steps behind them (and the third just hasn’t realised how far away exams are).

For many, one of the worst contributing factors to exam stress is lack of, or poor quality, sleep. Everyone knows getting a good night’s sleep involves getting to bed at a decent hour. And it’s true, but if you do that, it’s impossible to fit in those extra few unproductive hours of Facebook-YouTube-YikYak-Central-Library-socialising while avoiding study.

 The habits that feed into your sleep are “sleep hygiene”. Consistency about getting up at the same time is the most important factor for students — the weekend “catch-ups” do not help you deal with the next Monday. Don’t go to bed thirsty either. Exercise helps, but this can be something as straightforward as a brisk walk, no need to don the trendy gear and get judged at Unipol. Avoid stimulation for a short while before going bed. This includes caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, as well as backlit screens (smartphones, tablets and laptops all count). Find your own way to spend 30 minutes chilling out before you put your head on the pillow and remember to keep the bed for sleep only.  

One of the things that makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep is the inner mental hamster getting thrashed every night once you actually put your head on the pillow. Some of the steps above can help reduce this, but talking to people is a good option — a lot of ways to get help with stress are available on campus.

 It’s been shown that sleep deprivation reduces cognitive function, and students with awareness of sleep hygiene typically get better sleep than those without. Spend a few weeks improving your sleep habits, and after exam time you’ll consider it worth it.

This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2015.
Posted 2:11pm Sunday 27th September 2015 by Isa Alchemist.