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Unplug before disconnecting

It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and you’re trying to wind down after a full night of studying with some aimless Facebook scrolling.

Over 20 minutes, you learn that girl you haven’t seen or spoken to since Grade 8 is having another goddamn kid; that obnoxious guy you met at last weekend’s ugly Christmas sweater party and have since avoided eye contact with every time you see him on campus has decided to stop watching Game of Thrones and here are his five reasons why; Taylor Swift really likes short shorts and Buzz Feed wants you to see 18 times she proved it – ranked.

Once you’ve become sufficiently bloated with mindless digital garbage, you decide that perhaps it’s time to close your eyes and make a concerted effort to not be a zombie tomorrow. After all, you’ve got another full two days of studying before that massive managerial accounting exam worth 40 per cent of your final grade on Saturday morning.

Only sleep is now the farthest thing from your mind. After exhausting your brain with financial forecasting and price modeling and cost benefit analysis all night, you neglected to give it a rest before bed, instead cramming it with more useless information on a bright white backdrop than you know what to do with.

Should babies be on your radar right now? How much did that guy actually spend on that ludicrous light-up Rudolph sweater? Did T-Swift really pull off those dark wash hot pants?  

I paint this all-too-familiar picture to illustrate a very important point this time of year: Allowing yourself to properly unwind before bed is absolutely critical to a good night’s sleep, which in turn, is absolutely critical to a happy, healthy brain. This rings true all year, but especially during exam season, when you’re stretching your mind to capacity on a near-constant basis and it needs all the relaxation it can get.

Unplugging before bed is one of the best ways to do this, and is in fact one of the best pieces of exam season advice I can offer.

Before reaching for your phone or your laptop or your tablet after a full day of studying – and before another full day of studying – indulge in some authentically good-for-you activities, and make those activities part of your own personal before-bed ritual.

This can be a range of activities, from yoga to a bubble bath to a little light reading; the specifics aren’t critical – what is critical is that whatever you choose as your pre-slumber routine, it helps you unwind in a way that will prime you for a well-deserved rest.

And hey, if you’re still having trouble clearing your brain, seek out a pair of ears, be they those of a parent, friend, proctor or counsellor. This time of year is stressful on everyone, and there are always people around who are more than willing to help you get through it.

Just not necessarily one of your 500+ Facebook friends.

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