Sleeping Problems in Exam Periods – Circadian and Sleep Rhythms

Sleeping Problems in Exam Periods

Healthy Tips to Overcome Sleeping Disorders During Exams

Surely many of you and you begin to have sleep problems as exam periods approaching. Therefore, we want to leave these lines to try to give you a hand with your sleep hygiene.

One of the aspects that are most affected when we have a concern is the dream. That is why, during the exam period, an overload of work in the university or when we have external problems, it costs us more to fall asleep at night. From the Essay Writing Services UK we want to give you a series of sleep hygiene guidelines so that you can avoid or minimize this difficulty:

  • Reduce consumption of caffeine. A cup of coffee can have between 100 and 200 mg of caffeine; a cola drink between 50 and 75 mg. Generally, sleep affects anyone if they exceed 500 mg a day. Therefore, it is advisable not to spend more than this amount per day.
  • Avoid smoking the hours before going to sleep or, at least, reduce the consumption of tobacco in those hours. The nicotine is a stimulant of the central nervous system.
  • Make a light dinner two hours before going to sleep but do not go to bed feeling hungry.
  • Do sport. Sport allows our brain to secrete a series of substances, such as serotonin, dopamine, or endorphins, which favor a positive and relaxed state of mind, as well as a better sleep balance. However, do not play sports just before sleep, because then you may have trouble sleeping, due to overactivation.
  • Avoid prolonged naps. Limit the nap to a maximum of 20-30 min after the meal. The nap should never be done after 12 hours of the previous sleep.
  • Maintain an adequate environment that favors and helps maintain sleep (temperature, the order in the room, avoid noise …)
  • Reduce activating and excessively motivating activities two hours before going to bed. For example, if playing a video game activates you too much, maybe playing that videogame before sleeping is not the best idea … On the contrary, doing relaxing activities or not overacting is a better option (listening to music, watching a TV show that does not interest us too much …)
  • Do not perform tasks in bed that involves mental activity (reading, watching TV, computer …). It is important that you associate bed only to rest and sleep, and not to other activities. Therefore, if it is difficult for you to sleep, it is usually not a good idea to lie down in bed with a book, a Tablet, a mobile phone, notes …
  • Avoid exposure to bright light at least 2 hours before sleep, ie in the light of mobile phones. In the middle of the afternoon, you can activate night mode on your mobile phone, and lower the brightness considerably. However, the ideal thing is that after dinner you park your mobile phone definitively

We hope that these guidelines will help you to better sleep. If not, you will always have the Orientation Service at your disposal to help you. You can get in touch with your counselor to work on these topics or others of your interest.

CIRCADIAN AND SLEEP RHYTHMS

Sleep, like other functions of the body (hormones, metabolism, etc.) is regulated by the so-called “biological clock”. This is a neuronal center located in the cerebral hypothalamus whose function is to give the signal to the rest of the structures of the brain to start and end the dream. In this way, the biological clock will be who establishes what time it increases and at what time decreases the propensity to sleep. When activated, the biological clock sends a signal to the pineal gland, located next to the brain, so that this begins the production of melatonin, and this hormone coordinates the adaptation of the remaining functions of the organism to begin the sleep period.

Our sleep cycle, like many other functions of the organism, is regulated by the biological clock, and it is a neuronal center located in the hypothalamus, whose function is to give the order to the rest of the brain organisms to initiate, maintain and finalize the dream. It is this neural center or biological clock that will mark the slots in which there is more or less probability to fall asleep.

Under normal conditions, the biological clock is synchronized with external brightness and receives information directly through the retina. Thus, in natural conditions, the biological clock is activated at the end of the day and decrease the light signal, so that we notice the feeling of drowsiness a few hours later. However, the exposure to artificial light typical of the modern world and, more recently, the night exposure to televisions, computers, tablets, etc. it can help the brain centers that regulate sleep not activate until several hours later.

Under normal conditions, the sleep regulatory centers receive the activation signal at dusk, and this makes us feel sleepy at that time, and they are gradually deactivated in the morning. However, the biological clock may be altered for various reasons, among which are:

Genetic factors: several genes (collectively called “clock genes” are involved in this process and any genetic anomaly thereof can have the consequence that it costs us sleep at certain times.

Hormonal factors: various hormonal changes such as menstruation, menopause, but also some endocrinological diseases can alter the function of the biological clock.

Drugs: some drugs with effects on the Nervous System, such as antidepressants, but also some antihypertensive drugs, alter the sleep-wake rhythm.

Ophthalmological alterations that hinder the transmission of the light signal.

Neurological alterations

Age.

Food, exercise, etc.

All these situations can lead us to a situation of inability to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, to difficulties to maintain it during the dawn, or to problems to keep us awake during the day.

How to know if our insomnia problem is due to a malfunction of the brain clock?

It is always important to keep in mind that frequently insomnia, rather than inadequate deactivation or poor stress management, may be due to abnormal functioning of the biological clock. How to know if circadian rhythms intervene in my insomnia? If you can sleep well, but not at the time you want or think you should sleep, you may have a sleep rhythm disorder. So, for example, some people sleep well between 6 and 14, or between 19 and 2 in the morning, but can not sleep when they intend to do it between 23 and 7 in the morning. In some rare cases, insomnia occurs periodically, that is, each period of five weeks they have insomnia for two weeks.

Some specific indicators that our insomnia problem may be due mainly to a sleep-wake rhythm dysfunction are:

  1. Difficulties to start the dream, mainly when we try it at the beginning of the night (in a much lower degree if we try it at other times) or
  2. Difficulties to maintain sleep, mainly when we try at the beginning of the night (to a much lesser degree if we try it at other times).
  3. Start of the problem in adolescence, or even in childhood.
  4. The problem occurs almost daily, regardless of the level of stress we suffer or the environment in which we sleep.
  5. Aggravation of the problem when crossing several time zones (depends on the type of problem and the direction in which we travel).
  6. Improvement of insomnia under melatonin administration.
  7. The problem of nocturnal insomnia is associated with hypersomnolence during the day, that is, we have no difficulty sleeping at certain times of the day.
  8. Relatives affected by a similar problem.

Some types of insomnia caused by disturbance of the sleep-wake rhythm:

SLEEP PHASE DELAY SYNDROME

Some people have difficulty falling asleep at the usual times (eg, at 11 or 12 o’clock at night). At that time they are absolutely awake and, even when they know that the next day they will have to get up early, they can not sleep. The dream only comes hours later, usually late in the morning. Once they fall asleep, they do it deeply, not waking up all night beyond what is usually normal for their age.
If they have to get up early, they find it extraordinarily difficult to get up, if they manage to get it. In this case, they perform their activities at the expense of sleeping a few hours, feeling tired, sleepy, and their performance is generally low during the morning. Throughout the day their discomfort decreases, being relatively well at night. Because during the working week they sleep an insufficient number of hours, the weekends tend to compensate for the lack of hours of sleep, falling asleep at dawn and waking up at noon and sometimes in the afternoon. During vacations, already free of working hours, they get up late in the morning, and when they sleep a sufficient number of hours, their symptoms of drowsiness and discomfort disappear.
In short, the characteristic of these people is that their sleep is normal in quantity and duration but takes place at a late hour. It is the so-called sleep phase lag syndrome. In some people it occurs with a greater severity, for example, falling asleep at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, although in many other people it can manifest itself in a milder way, for example, having difficulty falling asleep before 1 o’clock in the morning and simply sleeping 1 or 1.5 hours less than it should.

SLEEP PHASE ADVANCE SYNDROME

It is the opposite situation: the sleep cycle begins early (eg at 8 o’clock in the afternoon), and ends early (at dawn). The affected person usually feels at most a certain fatigue at sunset, which becomes drowsy if you perform sedentary tasks (eg driving). Once in bed, he usually falls asleep quickly. But above all, at midnight he wakes up completely awake, and this is his main complaint.
This picture is more frequent in older people, in contrast to the Delay Syndrome that is in younger people. It can also occur in certain families and there is a gene associated with your condition.

IRREGULAR SLEEP RHYTHM

It occurs when there is a complete fragmentation of the sleep rhythm so that it occurs in episodes never exceeding several hours in a random way both during the night and during the day. It occurs mainly in some neurological disorders. However, in its minor form, all insomnia due to psychophysiological causes ends up having an irregular rhythm of sleep to some extent.

IRREGULAR SLEEP RHYTHM

The Jet Lag occurs when we expose a person to a sudden change of schedule, preferably three or more hours apart. When the change occurs abruptly, the internal biological rhythm of sleep is out of date with respect to the new local time. Between the US and Europe, there are six or more hours of time difference. Thus, a traveler who takes a plane in Boston at 7 o’clock in the afternoon (local time), lands in Madrid at 9 o’clock in the morning (local time). At that time his biological clock still marks 3 o’clock in the morning and, what is more important, his body is functioning as if it were still 3 o’clock in the morning. This is the main cause of feeling tired and intellectually disabled when arriving at the new destination.

His head works slowly, with very little clarity. He is irritated, his reactions occur slowly, and he suffers from gastrointestinal discomfort. Upon arriving at the destination, your body will need several days to gradually adapt to the new schedule. The speed of adaptation will depend on several factors, among which are the time difference between the starting point and the destination, the age of the patient, exposure to ambient light, etc.

Throughout the first day, our traveler will notice that he has drowsiness already in the middle of the afternoon and that during the first night he suffers frequent awakenings and stays awake at dawn. His dream is not repairing. Over the next few days, the tendency to fall asleep early and wake up so early will decrease, probably at a rate of 1.5 hours per day elapsed.

Young people tend to have greater problems when they fly from the west to the east (Boston to Madrid), since having a longer sleep cycle, they have to compress it in a shorter day. The opposite occurs in the elderly: for them, it is more difficult to travel from East to West (Madrid to Boston) since having a short sleep cycle, they have to adapt it to a particularly long day.

The Jet Lag does not depend on the duration of the trip, but exclusively on the number of time zones that we cross. So, there is no Jet Lag when we fly from Scandinavia to South Africa.
Not everything we call Jet Lag is. On journeys from the West to the East (eg, America to Europe), during the first day, in addition to the Jet Lag, we are experiencing suppression of sleep (in fact they wake us up at dawn!). In addition, it is very likely that during the days leading up to the trip, you have slept less than usual. On the other hand, the effect of remaining seated on the plane for so many hours, not being able to sleep (noise and discomfort), the change in food, the tension associated with the trip, or the effect of the closed environment or smoke in the areas of smokers favor a situation of fatigue and fatigue. Whatever it is, all these factors contribute in the same direction as the Jet Lag: fatigue. The jet lag also means that we can not recover quickly at the destination,

Michael is a social media marketer and a content strategist at Essay Writers. His writing strategy is quite different as he loves to answer instead of assignment writing about problems.

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