Sleep Hygiene During Exams

If you have an important upcoming exam, the stress and anxiety leading to the big day may not just impact you mentally. It also can impact you physically. Excessive sweating, feelings of nausea, a racing heart, and trouble breathing are common signs of test anxiety, but that’s not all. Poor sleep is another side effect of stress that can hurt your test score.

Unfortunately for many test takers, quality sleep before exam day is one of those often-overlooked test prep tips that can factor into a solid score. Too often, students sacrifice sleep for more study time, which doesn’t help. If you’re struggling to get some sleep before the test, find out why this is a big deal and what you can do about it.

Why Is Sleep Before an Exam Important?

Think missing a little sleep only hurts your mood and leaves you a little cranky? Think again. Poor sleep directly impacts your ability to perform mental tasks, which is disastrous on test day. Particularly on standardized tests, your mental sharpness is exactly what is being evaluated, so the last thing you want to do is compromise those skills by doing anything that gets in the way of a good night’s rest.

Pulling an all-nighter is not an effective form of test prep. Cramming the day before an exam at the expense of quality sleep more often than not hurts rather than helps you by creating a series of negative impacts:

  • Your memory suffers.

  • Your body is deprived of its chance to recover.

  • You fight your body’s natural desire to rest.

  • Your stress hormone levels are increased.

  • Your concentration and accuracy go down.

  • Your judgement wanes.

How Much Sleep Should You Get Before an Exam?

To feel fully rested, most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep. For adolescents, it’s about an hour more. However, if you’re thinking one good night’s rest before exam day is enough, you’re wrong.

You can run a “sleep debt,” which is the total sleep loss that accumulates in a given period. Even if you get a good eight hours of sleep the night before the big test day, you may not be as rested as you think. If you did not maintain a healthy sleep pattern the week leading up to the exam, you’ll carry all of those missed hours of sleep into the test with you.

Unsure if you’re running a sleep debt that could impact your exam performance? Consider keeping a sleep diary. Note when you went to bed, how much you slept, how rested you feel, and how alert you find yourself in the morning. You will want to note any times that you feel tired throughout the day. All of this information can help discover any problems with your sleep schedule.

How Can You Tackle the Exam Fully Rested?

If sleep loss can accumulate over several days or weeks, the key is to get into a healthy sleep habit well before your exam and stick to it. It may take some adjustment to your routine, but getting on a healthy sleep schedule is possible if you follow a few simple steps:

  • Set aside enough time to sleep.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.

  • Avoid anything loud or stimulating for an hour before bed.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything in large quantities at least two hours before bed.

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.

  • Participate in physical activity each day, particularly outdoors.

  • Make your bedroom a quiet, dark place without any electronic devices and distractions.

  • Limit daytime nap length to no more than 20 minutes.

The key here is consistency. The longer and more strictly you follow the steps above, the greater your success falling and staying asleep. Ideally, you’ll go into test day after maintaining a strict sleep schedule for several weeks.

Trading Sleep for Studying Does Not Work

For far too many people, sacrificing sleep is their first strategy to fight test anxiety and pack in more study time. This will not help. Studies have shown that students who sleep more perform better than those who stay up to cram.

There’s no shortcut to a great exam score. If you have an important test coming up, you need to remember that it’s about investing as much time and effort into your health and well-being as it is studying the material.

-Logan Ryder, Peer Wellness Educator

Recognizing the Signs of Burnout and How to Cope

As University students, we have come to hear about the term “burnout” in our everyday lives, however, what does it truly mean, and what can we do about it?

What is Burnout?

According to HelpGuide, Burnout has been described as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” This feeling tends to creep up on a lot of people within the colder months, when it gets darker out earlier, and assignments tend to pile up and seem out of control.

What are the symptoms of burnout?

Some symptoms of burnout include:

  • An overwhelming sense of exhaustion

  • Inconsistencies with sleep and eating routines

  • Feeling unmotivated to complete daily tasks

  • Isolating yourself from peers and others.

Burnout looks different for everyone, and can vary from minor symptoms to severe symptoms. It is always important to check in with yourself, and the WellU key can be a great way to do so. 

How to Cope with Burnout?

There are many ways to cope with burnout, such as:

  • Creating a daily routine that is simple enough for you to follow. 

  • Changing your environment—this can drastically improve your mood and motivation levels. 

  • Making plans with friends and family —this can allow you to take a break from your studies and give your mind a rest. 

  • Speak to a counsellor or medical professional—if you are feeling overwhelmed, seeking support from a professional like a counsellor, nurse practitioner, or doctor can be really helpful. 

Lakehead offers many resources in regards to mental health support. You can find these resources here

How Do Your Peer Wellness Educators Cope with Burnout?

As students themselves, Lakehead’s Peer Wellness Educators have encountered their own issues with burnout. Here are some ways that they cope with it: 

“When encountering burnout, I tend to try and set up my day to include some sort of both physical activity and mental relaxation, no matter how small or large these activities may be.” — Makayla

“I cope with burn out by scheduling in some time for breathing exercises and to relax.” —Logan

“I cope with burn out by setting a goal of myself to sleep 8 hours a night especially on weekends and setting some time aside for some extra self care such as eye masks and face masks.”—Virginie


- Makayla Foster, Peer Wellness Educator Lead


Observing A Substance Free Halloween

 Whether you never drink or if a Halloween bar crawl is just not your vibe this weekend- there are other ways to observe the holiday.  

1. Attend a Haunted House

This is a classic. There is nothing that quite screams Halloween like visiting a haunted house, making your way through the passages in anticipation of every scare. 

2. Carve Pumpkins

What says Halloween more than pumpkin carving? Set up a jack-o’-lantern carving competition is a great way to fuel your competitive spirit while enjoying a fun, laughter-filled evening. You could even roast the seeds for a delicious snack later on.

3. Scary Movie Marathon

Get your friends and roommates together for a scary movie marathon. Make a seasonal charcuterie board, or set up a popcorn and candy board. 

4. Volunteer

Lots of children’s homes, shelters, and other charities hold events on and around Halloween. By volunteering, you won’t only join a group of like-minded people who are enjoying Halloween together, but you get to give back to your community and the people who most need your help.

5. Hand Out Candy

Another Halloween tradition should have you heading to the grocery store. You may have aged out of trick or treating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend your night helping trick-or-treaters load up on their candy.

6. Find Halloween-themed Sports Events

Join a Halloween-themed 5k or mini-marathon. Most of these are costumed, so you’ll get to go out in costume and pretend you’re trick or treating, only minus the candy. Keep an eye out for other sporting events like soccer or basketball being played with a Halloween theme.

7. Bake Spooky Treats

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and a love for baking, getting your supplies out and whipping up some spooky treats like cupcakes and cookies could be a great way to enjoy the holiday without feeling the urge to relapse.

-Lindsey Wachter, RKin, Health Promoter

The benefits of getting outside

Many of the benefits of spending time outdoors come from the opportunities to be physically active but spending time in nature can have benefits to our mental health too! 

Spending time outside can:

  • reduce stress

  • improved mood

  • improve attention and memory

  • Improve sleep quality 

  • Provide opportunities for social connection

Luckily, Lakehead students have a lot of options for hiking trails- check out some of the SHW staff’s favourites! 

Thunder Bay Campus

My go-to fall hike is the Finger Point trail by the Minnesota border, it’s a bit of a drive but the views from the top are spectacular and you can also tack on the High Falls Trail

-Lindsey Wachter, Health Promoter 

I’m not a super hiker, but I love to walk among all the colourful leaves in the fall.  My favourite place to go is Centennial Park towards Trowbridge Falls.  Hiking at Centennial has a lot of options, especially if you don’t have a lot of time.

-Cheryl D’Angelo, Director Student Health and Wellness 

The James Duncan Trail has some spectacular views – especially at this time of year with the changing colours.  

-Irene Pugliese, Manager of Wellness Services

I really enjoy the Mink Mountain trail. It’s extremely beautiful at sunrise and especially fun when going with friends. 

-Virginie Franks, Student Peer Wellness Educator Lead

Orillia Campus

My favourite spot to hike in Orillia is at Scouts Valley. Each season offers something different, from beautiful fall colours, to peaceful winter snowfalls, to new spring wildflowers, and flowing summer rivers. The landscape is breathtaking any time of year. One of the entrances is also within walking distance to Lakehead Orillia Campus, making it a convenient option to get outdoors and connect with nature! 

Another great spot to walk in Orillia is along the Tudhope Park Loop. The trail is paved and great for running, walking, and biking! The route gently curves around the edge of Lake Couchiching, offering gorgeous views, picnic tables, and a sandy beach! Whatever your favourite activity Tudhope Park is sure to get you active and out in nature!

-Brooke Andrews, Student Wellness Associate 

Wooden bridge crossing a ravine, in the woods during fall, leaves coloured orange

Unlocking Your Productivity: Time Management Strategies for a Successful Semester

As students, it’s important to implement effective time management skills early into the semester to empower you to achieve academic success and personal well-being. This is due to the rapid accumulation of coursework, which makes it easy to fall behind if you solely focus on other aspects of your life. Nonetheless, achieving a balance between academics, work and social activities can be achieved by implementing effective time management skills to enable you to succeed both in your studies and in your personal life beyond the classroom.

Therefore, I have compiled a list of tips and tricks to ensure you experience academic success by optimizing your time management skills.

  • Set SMART Goals: At the start of each semester I have found it helpful to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) goals for each class. By doing so, it has enabled me to prioritize tasks and allocate time accordingly based on my goals.
  • Create an Assignment Log: A great way to stay organized is to create a list to track each task you are required to complete and include information such as the due date, and the weight of the assignment. This has enabled me to allot enough time for each assignment, know what’s coming up, and not accidentally forget to complete assignments. Check out my assignment log template here.
  • Keep a Schedule or Day Planner: It is very easy to forget about an upcoming meeting or important dates in the academic calendar, which is why staying organized through an agenda or day planner is essential. Using a way to organize your days is an easy way to stay on top of your tasks. 
  • Avoid Procrastination: Procrastination can be overcome by recognizing triggers such as feeling overwhelmed by a task and developing strategies to overcome them. I have found it effective to break tasks down into smaller steps, and set deadlines for each step, while turning my phone silent to be more productive and free from distractions.Practice Effective Time Blocking: Time blocking is an effective technique used to allocate time to complete specific tasks or assignments. This strategy is effective as it enables you to dedicate your full attention and a specific period of time to a certain task. I have found that using this strategy not only enhances my efficiency, but prevents me from submitting subpar work due to being tired of working on an assignment. 
  • Taking Breaks: Pacing yourself while completing coursework is a great way to practice self-care. It is essential to take regular breaks while studying or completing assignments to enable yourself to recharge and complete work in manageable quantities. Some of my favourite ways to take breaks is to engage in physical activity, spend time with friends, and watch movies. I have found that taking breaks by using Pomodoro timers has improved my focus and overall productivity as I would for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Find some great Pomodoro timers here.

Being able to effectively manage your time is an important skill that can significantly impact your academic success. By utilizing these strategies, you will become more productive, organized, and perform better academically. 

Best of luck this semester!

-Madeline Fabiano, Student Health and Wellness Research Assistant 


calendar with pen and post it note

Recipe Inspo

“I saw this TikTok…” is a phrase that comes out of my mouth at least once a day. Most of the information and skills I learn now as a 22-year-old come from posts I see on social media. Whether its TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter, lots of people share tips and tricks that they have discovered that make life easier in some way. As a university student on a budget who is somewhat new to cooking, I have been able to find some amazing content creators that have helped me not only learn how to cook, but how to eat healthy, and save money while doing it. Here is a list of the content creators that have been helping me and the platforms you can find them on!

Shreyacookssss: I originally found Shreya on Tiktok under the name ‘Shreyacookssss’ and I immediately was obsessed. Not only does she have vegan and gluten free recipes, but she also has dessert and drink recipes too! After some Googling I was also able to find her Instagram, as well as her website where she uploads all of her recipes.

TheKoreanVegan: My friend is actually the one who introduced me to TheKoreanVegan, she made strawberry mochi for us which she learned how to make from Joanne (TheKoreanVegan). Joanne is on Tiktok, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as having her own website and her own cookbook.

GoodCheapEats: GoodCheapEats is an Instagram account run by a mom of 6 named Jessica, so she definitely understands how important it is to shop affordably. Jessica also has her own website under the same name (GoodCheapEats) and a cookbook! Jessica teaches how to save money while grocery shopping, as well as how to cook healthy meals.

OneDishKitchen: The reason I love Joanie’s (OneDishKitchen) page/website is because she is one of the few people who shows you how to make meals for one person. I live alone and when I’m trying a new recipe for the first time and I’m not sure if I am going to like it, I don’t want to make a huge batch of it and end up with a bunch of wasted leftovers. Joanie’s website has hundreds of all kinds of different recipes for one!

JuliaPacheco: Julia is another mom turned content creator who wants to help people with meals. I really like Julia’s content because even though her videos are on YouTube, they’re still short, straight forward, and easy to follow. Plus, the way Julia cooks kind of reminds me of my mom, just simple and filling meals.

StruggleMeals: “We can make creative, nutritious, and inventive dishes that won’t break the bank!” This is the line that Chef Frankie uses to start every episode of StruggleMeals, and as a student it is pretty inspiring. Chef Frankie makes all kinds of recipes all while using affordable ingredients and the bonus, his videos are short, easy to follow, and fun to watch.

-Andrew Rowat, Food Resource Centre Assistant 

Staying Active On Campus in The Fall

The life of a University student involves juggling coursework demands and a social life. Amidst the challenge of balancing the demands of school and a social life, physical activity is easily overlooked. However, integrating regular physical activity into your routine holds immense benefits for your overall health and well-being. Research has consistently shown that engaging in consistent exercise enhances both your physical and mental health, reduces the risk of diseases, helps manage weight, increases sleep quality, and improves cognitive function.

Therefore, I have compiled a list of ways University students can add physical activity to their busy schedule to enable them to reap the benefits!

Active Commute or Park Further Away: Opting to park further away and choosing to walk or bike to school are excellent ways to increase your daily physical activity levels. This is because it will only take a few extra minutes out of your day, but will enable you to reap the benefits of being physically active. By incorporating these simple habits into your routine, you can seamlessly integrate physical activity into your day, while also enjoying the added bonus of fresh air and the opportunity to clear your mind before and after class.

Join a Campus Rec Team: Becoming part of a recreational sports team serves as an effective means to heighten your physical activity levels, with the added benefit of minimal organizational obligations. Those who join campus teams are able to expand their networks and cultivate new social connections while engaging in consistent physical activity through the scheduled team events. Being part of a team instills a sense of accountability, as teammates rely on one another’s participation and thus sparks motivation to get out there. Find more information about Thunder Bay and Orillia Campus Rec teams.

Opt for Short Workouts on Breaks: Incorporating physical activity into the gaps between your classes presents a fantastic method to add movement into your daily routine without demanding significant time commitments. Engaging in physical activity between classes is a great way to add movement to your days without a large time requirement. This can be as simple as taking a leisurely stroll around campus or utilizing campus fitness facilities. 

Utilize The Campus Gym: Lakehead University provides all students with free access to our campus gyms and fitness facilities. This exceptional offer has eliminated any concerns about the financial strain of acquiring a gym membership, presenting an excellent opportunity for students to readily participate in physical activity on campus. Learn more about both the Thunder Bay and Orillia gyms.

Stick to a schedule: Establishing a consistent routine is one of the most important steps to ensure you engage in enough physical activity. Personally, I have found it helpful to align my workout schedule with my in-person classes. This approach capitalizes on the convenience of being on campus, with the gym conveniently situated nearby, making it easier for me to be motivated to engage in physical activity. made it more convenient to engage in physical activity 

Social aspect: Integrating a social dimension into your physical activity regimen is a brilliant strategy to guarantee your engagement in regular movement, all while catching up with family or friends. By merging social interactions with your exercise routine, you not only prioritize your physical well-being but also create opportunities to see friends in an active environment rather than being sedentary.

Ultimately, the key to engaging in regular physical activity is to participate in activities that you enjoy and create a plan that you can realistically maintain.

-Madeline Fabiano, SHW Summer Research Assistant


Person with outstretched arms winding up to kick a yellow soccer ball on a grass field. Person chasing them in the background,

How to Cook Without Using an Oven

Growing up, the house I lived in with my mom had central air conditioning so I never really minded summer because I always knew no matter how hot it got outside, I could always cool off inside. However, since coming to university and living in an apartment on my own that does not have air conditioning, I am finding summer less enjoyable than before. The hardest part I’ve noticed about living without air conditioning is trying to cook healthy meals without using my oven, the last thing I want to do right now is turn on my oven and make my apartment even hotter. Luckily, I have taken to Google and found tons of tips and tricks to ensure I can eat healthy and delicious meals this summer without turning my apartment into a sauna.  

First of all, it is important to try and utilize other means of cooking as much as possible. My new favourite way to prepare meals is with my slow cooker. Slow cookers are amazing because not only do they cook full meals without making your entire kitchen hot, but you can also find them for a good price at Walmart or even second-hand at Value Village, and they require little to no supervision. Once you put all your ingredients in and set it to the right temperature you can leave a slow cooker unattended for hours! Giving you free time to do anything else you might have planned for the day. Right now, my three favourite slow cooker meals are ‘Slow Cooker Irish Oats’, ‘Slow Cooker Pesto Mozzarella Pasta’, and ‘Slow Cooker Lo Mein’. The great thing about these meals, along with most slow cooker recipes is depending on the size of your slow cooker you can make a whole bunch of it and then just store it in your fridge and reheat it in the microwave as needed. I like to make a big batch of the Irish Oats on a Sunday and that way I have breakfast prepared for the whole week and I don’t have to stress in the mornings.  

Another great thing I’ve learned from Google is how many recipes exist that don’t involve any kind of heat cooking. I used to just eat cereal or sandwiches when I didn’t want to cook with heat but now, I’ve majorly expanded my repertoire. Three of my favourite heatless recipes I’ve found so far are ‘Chickpea Avocado Tacos’, ‘No Noodle Pad Thai’, and ‘Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Lemon Dressing’. Since these meals don’t need to be cooked or heated, they’re perfect for packing and bringing to school as lunch. Plus, they’re much healthier and cheaper than anything you can find in a school cafeteria. I’ve included the links to all of these recipes down below. Stay cool this summer!  


Sun Safety: Essential Tips for Summer

As our days get warmer, it becomes easier to spend hours basking in the sunshine. However, it’s important to do so safely to avoid the dangers of excess sun exposure. 

Therefore, I have compiled a list of six tips on how to safely enjoy the summer heat while staying sun-protected. 

Protect Your Skin by Staying Covered 

  • When the ultraviolet radiation (UV) index reaches a 3 or higher, it becomes very important to shield your skin from the sun as much as possible to prevent skin damage and premature aging. 

  • You can actively protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, light-coloured clothing, long sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses.

Always Wear Sunscreen 

  • All skin tones require sunscreen whenever you venture outdoors, it’s important to wear at least an SPF  (Sun protection factor) 30 sunscreen as it will block 97% of UVB rays.

  • When you engage in physical activity or movement outside, you should always wear water or sweat-resistant sunscreen to avoid sunburns.

  • Particularly when swimming or in water, it is advised to apply water- resistant sunscreen and reapply once you are out of the water for better protection.

Minimize Your Duration in the Sun

  • The UV levels are typically at their highest between 11:00am and 3:00pm, which is why it is necessary to stay out of the direct sunlight as much as possible during this time.

  • A good indicator that the sun is very strong is when your shadow is shorter than you.

  • If you happen to be outside during this time frame, you should look for shade in sources such as big trees and umbrellas.

The Importance of Checking the UV Index

  • Checking the UV index is a critical step to protecting your skin, as the UV can be damaging regardless of the 

  • even when it may not seem very hot outside the UV can still be damaging.

  • Too much exposure can cause sunburns, premature aging of the skin, eye damage and skin cancer.

Stay Hydrated in the Heat

  • Aside from sunscreen and seeking shade, an important step in sun safety is to ensure you are regularly drinking water.

  • It is critical to drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty to prevent the onset of sun-related illnesses such as heat stroke and dehydration.


Avoid Sun Tanning Oils


  • Contrary to common belief, it is very harmful to use tanning oils as they commonly lack enough SPF to protect your skin and they attract more UV rays to help you achieve a darker tan.

  • Additionally, layering tanning oil with sunscreen has been found to make the sunscreen less effective, so it is crucial to avoid tanning oil altogether. 

Check Your Medication for Sun Sensitivity

  • A common side effect of many medications is sun sensitivity (photosensitivity), which can increase one’s risk of experiencing severe sunburns and rashes

  • If your doctor, pharmacist or warning label on your medication recommends avoiding sunlight it is important to do so to protect your skin as it may be more susceptible to burning

Stay sun safe this summer!

-Madeline Fabiano, SHW Summer Student


The Importance of Smart Scrolling

Despite the wealth of knowledge that can be accessed through social media, most of the information that exists on these sites contains false or misleading information. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of health and wellness, as numerous fad diets, exercise programs, symptoms and signs to self-diagnose conditions, and medications to alter one's appearance are always trending despite the presence of trustworthy information to support it.

The algorithms on social media have further complicated matters as they have the ability to control what content viewers have access to. Unfortunately, oftentimes the algorithm promotes misinformation and reinforces bias rather than providing accurate and reliable information.

Many individuals rely on and use social media to quickly gain information as minimal work is required, which makes the popularity of misinformation extremely problematic. Most social media content does not go through a verification process prior to or after uploading and thus information is often shared without a critical evaluation of its credibility. More specifically, certain types of content tend to go viral despite the truthfulness involved, which causes the platform to share the content to more viewers in order to prioritize engagement rather than the accuracy of information.

The information we read can significantly influence our decision-making processes and how we interact with ourselves and others. Therefore, it is important to ensure the information we absorb is valid and reliable. To verify that the information you view online is reliable, I encourage you to follow these guidelines when you are skeptical about the accuracy of the information you find on social media.

  1. Evaluate the source: Examine the credibility of the source providing the information by considering where the advice is coming from. Look for reputable websites, established institutions, recognized experts in the field and verify the author’s qualifications and credentials.
  2. Verify accuracy: Cross-reference the information by referring to reliable sources. If the information is consistently reported by various reliable sources, the accuracy of the information is increased.
  3. Look for citations: Reliable sources will provide proper references or citations to support their claims. It is important to evaluate if the source is looking to help others or sell a product/service they provide and if they contain any biases towards a brand or strategy?
  4. Consider the date of information: Ensure the information is up to date and relevant. Outdated information can quickly become inaccurate or misleading, try to find the most recent source of information to refer to.
  5. Examine the quality of writing and presentation: Reliable sources will have a professional appearance and contain edited content. An unreliable source is more likely to include grammatical errors and a poor presentation or layout of information, which can indicate a lack of credibility.
  6. Trust your gut: If something seems to be too good to be true or lacks supporting evidence, use caution. Ensure you use your critical thinking skills and trust your instincts when assessing the reliability of online information.
  7. Follow up with a health professional: Even if the health information is reliable making a diagnosis is a complicated process and a diagnosis should only be made by trained professionals.

It’s important to remember that no method is foolproof, but following these guidelines can help you make more informed judgments about the reliability of online information.