Physical Health · Values

Sleep and AP Exams


The photo above is, as always, mine. Taken in Seattle 2016.

                 The first week of AP testing rolled in like a hurricane, threw students in a whirlwind, and left them behind exhausted and irritated. Last year, my hands shook to the point I worried that the scanner wouldn’t be able to process my multiple-choice. This year, I walked in prepared, calm and ready. What changed exactly? Sleep.
             Late 2016, my doctors diagnosed me with insomnia. Apparently it’s not normal to take three hours to fall asleep and wake up every hour on the hour. Who knew?
Insomnia gave me an edge that others don’t have, I can’t sleep at appropriate times at all. Why not use the time to do something productive? Last year I once stayed awake until two a.m. studying for an APUSH test. Insane? Oh yeah. Did it work? At the cost of my mental health, I did get an A in that class.
              The lack of sleep provided good grades, but it also drove away friends. Lack of sleep makes me irritable, aggravates my obsessive compulsive tendencies, and heightens anxiety. To combat the effects, I tried several different regimens. Unisom, amethyst crystals, chamomile tea, breathing exercises, stretching, resulted in a meager five hours of sleep on average. Poor quality and quantity, left a lot for longing.
             Thankfully after my diagnosis and some trial and error, I started trazadone which does wonders for my sleep. Not only do I sleep deeper, I’m not cranky all the time and the fog that permeated in my mind, vanished. It’s much easier to cram and have it be effective. I’m someone who needs seventy-two hours in a day to get all of her work done.                 Needless to say, I don’t have much freedom nor free time. When the rare chance arises, I study an hour or two before bed, changing subjects as I see fit. To my surprise, I actually remember the information I read now. It sticks into my brain and I can recall the information. I’m not as cranky or anxious. During class I can focus on the subject instead of daydreaming of ways to get out of class or doze off.
                My tips for you for better sleep is to take away the demerits. I used to overcome chilly toes with sheer force, but now I wear fuzzy socks to sleep. Not only are they extremely comfortable, they also increase the quality of my sleep. Instead of reading an engaging novel before bed, I listen to a podcast or write instead.
                This Monday I took the AP Chemistry exam. If I took it last year, I would have hyperventilated and had a panic attack or two. This year I calmly finished up my final study session before the exam, ate a Larabar, and conquered the behemoth. It’s all thanks to sleep that I came out without a scratch.
               My wish for you is to do the same. Prioritize sleep, make sleep feel like a luxury, pamper yourself during sleep. Your mind and performance will thank you.

Flailing through chaos with minimal damage. Chronicles twice a week.