A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The older you get the less sleep you’ll need – or so I was once told as a teenager. Well I don’t think I quite agree with it and I am sure the vast majority of students out there would support me on this one. Lately, I have been having sleep issues. It began a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday and I was alone in my office hoping to finish up an important assignment. I was in early and equipped with all I needed – food, books, a pc and quiet. Despite the favourable conditions it wasn’t a productive day – at all. During the day I was easily distracted by other worldly pleasures and ended up doing nothing till 9 pm (except for eating). Soon it was dinner time and I started feeling guilty. This is where the bad part begins! I decided not to go home until I actually got some work done. Guilty from earlier and tired due to it being late, I had a hard time working through the sheet and soon realized I needed to do some more reading before I could get anywhere. 10 pm, 11 pm 12 am, ….3 am – time flew by while I tried to be productive.
I was hungry and tired and sleepy but felt bad about my behaviour and so was in for a little longer. In the end I left at 4 in the morning. It felt strange as I rode my way back in the silence. 10 minutes later I was home and was exhausted. I had an egg for ‘dinner’ and then went to sleep setting an alarm for 10 am (aiming for 6 hours of sleep). When I next woke up it still seemed to be dark. I thought I was up too soon and reached for my phone. It was 8 pm – I had slept through the whole day. Thankfully I didn’t have a lecture that I would have missed but a day lost is a day lost. I got up and prepared something to eat and sat down to do some reading. Soon it was 10 pm, 11 pm, 12 am …. 2 am but I didn’t feel sleepy this time – of course for I had slept through the entire day. I turned off the lights and went to bed but I could not sleep. No matter how hard I tried I just didn’t fall asleep the whole night. It was strange but since I wasn’t tired, I had no trouble ‘waking’ up for my 10 am lecture. I attended class but then straight after it was exhausted and came home for a nap at noon. I slept till 9 pm this time and had the same problem again – could not fall asleep. This continued for the rest of the week – somehow I managed to attend my lectures but my productivity was limited to just that. I got nothing else done, felt frustrated at not being able to sleep at night and hardly saw any humans for those 7 days. I needed to reset my life. But the cycle seemed never-ending. Well here is what I followed rigorously:
1. I realized that since the first night, I was spending about 3-4 hours lying in bed but not sleeping. This wasn’t helping me relax either so essentially it was just a waste of time. So I decided that until this was fixed, if I could not fall asleep I’d do something strenuous. So for two nights if I couldn’t sleep I’d iron my clothes or prepare lunch for the following day but keep myself engaged till I was physically drained.
2. I also kept away from any electronic devices because watching or listening to something fun would have relieved me from the strain i.e. would have been counter-productive.
3. I would take a hot shower about 40 minutes before going to bed. Apparently a drop in the body temperature triggers sleep and it takes something of the order of an hour for this to be effective.
4. Following on from above I also made sure I left my windows open while sleeping. This let in cold air and did actually make me fall asleep faster. Of course one has to be careful since it isn’t exactly safe to leave the windows open for burglars and ghosts to sneak in. Also if you have room-mates please do ask them for permission first.
4. Something interesting that I came across while looking for solutions was the idea of fasting. It has been claimed that if you fast for 10-12 hours before the desired wake up time you can actually reset your body clock. This is particularly useful for overcoming jet lag. I tried this, but to be honest, while I felt less tired the following morning I don’t think this helped immediately.
While the above steps helped me get back to normality, what helped the most was that I started using my time sincerely. And as I got more productive, I noticed that I didn’t have a swarm of thoughts disturbing my sleep time.
Must watch movie # 9
When I watched the trailer I didn’t think I would enjoy it. So I only watched it recently when I was on a flight and the other options were too boring. Anyway, Bradley Cooper(Eddie) plays an author in this movie. He is struggling for ideas and is not doing well financially. His girlfriend breaks up with him amidst all this misery. The same day he accidentally bumps into his brother-in-law who tells him about a new drug that allows one to harness maximum brain power. Eddie tries a few pills and soon finds his capability has no bounds. He finishes his book in 4 days, invests in the stock market and enjoys huge dividends.. in short he is now at the top of his game. But like with most drugs there are side-effects. He realizes that he needs to constantly consume the pills in order to stay at the top. He also feels restless and starts having hallucinations. Will he be able to sustain this success? What happens when he runs out of the pills? What if someone dangerous (from the underworld) gets hold of the secret pills? Watch it to find out for yourself.