Self-care secrets for sleep-deprived students

Most people love to dance: it’s a fun way to let off some steam or just have a good laugh with your friends. Few people, however, would ever be able to dance—much less stay awake and standing—for 24 hours straight without proper mental and physical preparation. Well, this past weekend, that is what hundreds of Hope College students did for the annual Dance Marathon fundraiser. This event, while raising money for a wonderful and worthwhile cause, includes being on your feet from 5 p.m. on Friday to 5 p.m. the next day. That kind of commitment can take a serious toll on your body, so here are a few ways to keep yourself healthy after participating in Dance Marathon: First, it’s a bad idea to take a nap or go straight to bed right after an all-nighter.

Your body’s sleep schedule has adapted to sleeping at a specific time. As soon as that is thrown off by sleeping for an unreasonable amount of time in the middle of the day, it is difficult to reset. That’s why, if you are feeling extremely tired (as one would after a 24-hour Dance Marathon), it is a good idea to only take about a 20-minute nap instead of, say, a three or four hour nap. This shorter nap will make your body able to fall asleep at the appropriate time, and the quality of sleep will be better when it comes. Also, according to everydayhealth. com, a twenty minute nap is always ideal to bring you through the appropriate sleep stages without letting your body go too far into “deep sleep.” This twenty minute nap will prevent grogginess and continued exhaustion throughout the rest of the day. An important aspect of health when you’re sleep deprived— and just in general—has to do with what we put in our bodies. According to the folks at, hydration is key after 24 hours of activity; our bodies use more water when we are awake than when we’re asleep. If you’re really desperate to stay alert and awake after no sleep, it is also recommended to add electrolytes to your water in the form of salt. It claims that this will wake up adrenal glands—if you’re willing to suffer through drinking salt water.

The food we eat also has a major impact on levels of energy. Looking to stay steadily energized for a longer amount of time? Instead of opting for sugary foods that will spike your energy up before shortly tanking it, opt for foods high in proteins or carbs. These will gradually raise blood sugar levels and help them to remain at a steady, higher level longer than a piece of candy or fruit would. Another way to re-regulate your circadian rhythm is to make sure you expose yourself to sunlight during the day. That might be a challenge during this finicky season, but exposure to sunlight tells the body that it’s time to be awake, limiting the release of melatonin—the sleep inducing chemical—to times when it’s dark. Exercise is yet another form of regulation for your sleep cycle; low stress exercise gets the body awake and moving, and makes it easier to fall asleep at the right time. While these remedies are a start, the real solution is time. Your body won’t adjust overnight – it may take many days or weeks before your sleep schedule is back to normal. But don’t lose hope, for spring break is just days away! You’ll have plenty of time to try these tecniques in order to rest up and relax in the coming week.

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