7 Tips For a Better Night’s Sleep

20160317-152626.jpgGood morning everyone!!!

Although, perhaps not as good of a morning for some of you who did not have the best sleep last night. Poor sleep can be the result of many things, such as stress as the end of term approaches, anxiety about a project or test the next day, issues of personal or family physical or mental health, or just not being able to get comfortable. 

After three years of Psychology courses during which each professor would share some groundbreaking research findings about how to improve the sleep of university students, and my own battles with insomnia, I have compiled my notes into this post of 7 tips for a better night’s sleep.

1. Take a Technology Break

 Now don’t lie: how many of you sleep with your cell phones??? I don’t just mean on the nightstand; I mean resting on your bed or something. A 2013 study found that 39% of students sleep with their cell phones just in case they get a text or call during the night. This percentage peaks at 51% in 11th grade, but even 20% of 4th graders say they do the same thing. Now, for the time being, I am going to ignore the fact that 4th graders even have cell phones because that just baffles me. The point of this is that most people sleep with their phones because they are afraid they will miss something important. But sleep is of top priority between the hours of say 10pm and 7am. Anything someone has to say can wait until the morning. With a phone in bed with you, the brain expects to be woken up, and thus you remain in sleep stages 1 and 2 so you can easily respond to the lighting up of your phone when you receive a text or call.  

2. Exercise Before Sleep, But Not Right Before

I have heard people say that if they go to the gym or run on the treadmill before they go to sleep, then they sleep better. This is true, to a degree, but exercise should be between 2-4 hours before you sleep and no sooner. Otherwise the body is left pumping adrenaline and laying in bed wondering why it can’t fall asleep. 

3. A Bed is for Sleeping

Back in high school I always used to do my homework and studying propped up in bed with my reading pillow. As comfortable as this may be, a bed is for sleeping, and thus should not be used for any other purpose. The brain forms an association between studying and laying in bed, and if you fall asleep while studying, this association is strengthened until the brain is not able to easily fall asleep. 

4. Pick a Spot, and Stick to It

This is a simple matter of classical conditioning. You have probably heard of Pavlov’s dogs. When the dogs saw food, they salivated. But after many times of the food being presented after the sound of a bell, the dogs salivated in response to only the bell, especting that food would follow. Well, the same is true for sleep. When it gets late, you get tired; a natural response. But after many times of sleeping in the same place, the body will get used to sleeping in bed, easier than if it tries to sleep elsewhere. 

5. Pick a Time, and Stick to It

This one doesn’t sound so bad, but here’s the hard part: waking up at the same time even on weekends. I love having a nice lie in as much as the next person, but this messes up the body’s circadian rhythm. I like to think of this as the most temperamental alarm clock because there is a host of things that can put it on snooze like light, jet lag or shift work, anxiety, stress, and the list goes on and on. Going to bed at the same time each night helps your internal clock regulate your sleep and wake phases, meaning you sleep better and wake up easier. 

6. Good Food, No Caffeine

Never go to bed hungry. Denying the body of a physiological need like food is bad enough, but then expecting the brain to forget about nutrients and go to sleep is just malarkey. And we’ve all heard about the repercussions of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that most people use after waking up in the morning or to stay alert during the day through their daily cups of coffee, tea, or even some soft drinks. It is important to note that caffeine is not a replacement for the feeling of well restedness that follows a good night’s sleep, but it can make one feel more alert by inhibiting sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. Caffeine can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after consumption, and will persist for several hours, with only half of it eliminated after 6 hours. While caffeine is safe to consume in moderation (about 250mg daily), it can negatively affect nutrition by replacing nutritious liquids like water and reduce food consumption because it is an appetite suppressant. 

7. Let Things Cool Down

If you’re like me and are always cold, then this one will be a little more difficult, but definitely worth it. As much as I love cranking up the heating in my room, snuggling up in blankets, and getting all warm and cozy, this actually makes it harder to sleep. Melatonin is a hormone whose secretion plays an important role in sleep, yet melatonin production decreases with increasing temperature. Thus, sleeping with the heat turned down, and even a window open, can really help getting to sleep. 

Picture 19

Vanilla Cupcakes



Hello there 🙂 🙂

 A few weeks ago, I learned that my friend Travis had never baked cupcakes before in his life. I was completely shocked that he had made it almost 28 years on this planet without ever making them, so we got together last Wednesday to bake. I loved this recipe I got from my grandmother so much that I wanted to share it here. I have no idea where she got it from, but credit to whoever came up with this perfect cupcake recipe. 


  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring eggs and butter to room temperature. Insert cupcake liners into two pans. 
  2. Mix together the salt, flour, and baking powder in a bowl (dry mixture).
  3. In a separate bowl, beat butter. Then add sugar and beat until combined. Continue to beat, and add eggs and vanilla (wet mixture). 
  4. Add part of the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat. Then add some milk, and beat. Continue this alternation until all of the dry mixture and the milk have been added. Mix well. Then pour into cupcake pans (about half-full).  
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are a golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the centre. 
  6. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pans. 


And now for the frosting!!!


  • ¾ cups butter, softened
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat softened butter together with some icing sugar. Add the vanilla and some milk. Then alternate between adding sugar and milk until happy with frosting consistency. Note: If frosting is too thin –> add sugar    If frosting is too thick –> add milk

Cooking notes:

  1. Well, first off, my friend did not own an electric mixer so we picked up two whisks for $3.50, one large and one small, and beat everything together by hand. My arm definitely got a good workout, and by the end of it, only one whisk was left standing; the other was in pieces in the sink. Good to know though that hand beating can do just as good of a job; it just takes a bit longer. 
  2. We found that the cupcakes were not fully baked after 15 minutes, so we left them in for the full 18 minutes.
  3. We also didn’t have a toothpick, so the cupcakes were tested using a sanitized paper clip. Talk about high quality bakeware. 
  4. Finally, I wrote out the recipe wrong, with 8 cups of icing sugar needed for the icing, not 4. We got 4 in, but had enough icing to do probably another 24 cupcakes. Oh well, I can always make a cake and use it up. 

Let me know how you find this recipe if you try it out 🙂 🙂 What have you been baking these days??? 

Picture 19


20151009-094026.jpgI don’t think I’ve properly introduced my little girl to you here on my blog: Valentine.
She came into my life in November of 2001 as an early birthday present when I turned 6 as a tiny little kitten. I have always loved cats since I can remember, and my grandparents always had at least one in their house, or around the neighbourhood that my grandfather was secretly feeding and eventually not-so-secretly adopting.
Valentine is my one and only cat, and we have grown up together. For those of you out there who aren’t fans of cats because you think they just eat and sleep and essentially ignore their owners, let me say now that Valentine is not that type of cat. In fact, she is pretty much the complete opposite.
If you ever want to see more of her in action, let me know in the comments and I’ll do more blogposts on her catscapades, if you will.
A few few examples of these include sitting on the kitchen table when I eat breakfast or dinner, sitting right next to, if not on, my homework, sleeping on my laptop so that I end up with a few hundred pages of nonsense strings of letters, and even more shenanigans like these.
And now now for the “proud parent moment” where I just showcase a ton of pictures of my little girl (who is obviously the cutest in the world):
So she looks cute and innocent here, but . . .  20151009-093528.jpg
This was her “helping” me take photos for my post about Clinique’s autumn bonus
This is the face I get every morning when I do my makeup . . .
. . . And when she doesn’t get enough attention, she jumps up on my counter and drinks from my tap
So then I head downstairs for breakfast and have to defend my morning smoothie
When I come home after school to do homework, this is what I have to contend with . . .
. . . And when I try to just focus on my schoolwork, I get this face
But, of course, once I’m finished, she is tired and curls up into a cat croissant to sleep
But then come times I get woken up in the middle of the night to this. . .
And then in the morning I say goodbye to this disapproving look when I have to go to university
Valentine has been such an important part of my life for the past 14 years, and I can’t wait to make even more memories with her. But seriously, I could do without finding cat hair in my morning smoothie or pressed between the pages of all my textbooks.
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What’s in my Backpack???

For many people the start of school is near, or has already happened. The beginning of a new school year is often a time of excitement to see friends and break out new school clothes, but it can also be a time of stress. As of tomorrow, I will be in my third year of university, so I feel like I have done enough first days of school, both high school and university, to provide a few helpful tips. So with that, I figured I would do a post on what is in my school backpack. Give it a read if you are wondering what to pack for your first day of high school or university, or if you just want to have a good snoop.

imageThe backpack: The backpack that I take to university with me is the Herschel classic backpack mid-volume in electric lilac. I do not think this colour is still available, but it comes in a plethora of colours and other styles, which you can browse here. What I really like about this backpack is the simple design. I don’t want a backpack with too many pockets that things could get lost in, but the front pouch gives me somewhere to put things where they will be easily accessible.

Image from Amazon.ca
Image from Amazon.ca

iPad Air 2: For those of you who are tech savvy or looking for an alternative to taking notes on paper, an iPad is a great tool to have. It takes over the role of a laptop, and is super light, making it a great way to keep a backpack from being too heavy to carry.

imageDay planner: I know some people are not fans of paper schedules and would rather use the calendar on their iPhone, but for me, having a hard copy of what I need to do is super useful. In my day planner, I write down all the readings, assignments, and tests that are upcoming, and when I am going to do them. I also colour-code things using different highlighters so I can see at a glance what types of work are upcoming. A day planner is also great to have to note doctors appointments, office hours of professors, or meetings with teachers. Even after school commitments like extra-curriculars or volunteer work can be noted so that nothing gets forgotten . Just find a system that works for you to keep everything on track and avoid the stress of last-minute panicking over a forgotten test or assignment.

imageNotebook: Note-taking is inevitable when it comes to school, but it is important to find a system that works for you. Maybe that means one notebook for each class, or a three-subject notebook for different days, or a binder full of loose sheets of paper. All through high school, I used the one notebook per class system, and it worked fairly well. The one problem with that though is if you start missing classes (and I say missing, not skipping). It can be hard to judge how many pages to leave blank for the missed notes, and leaving too many or not enough can be irksome. In university, I have a clipboard that I write notes on, and all my notes stay clipped to it. Then I paperclip them together at the end of each section and tuck them in the clipboard’s side pocket so I know where they are come exam time. That way, if I miss a day, it is easy to insert the missed notes. It is also easier to lend them to a classmate because I don’t need to give them my entire notebook.

*Note: For university classes, make sure to get to know at least one person in each of your classes. Many professors do not post notes made in class on any online templates, and may not post any notes online at all, so you need to find someone whose notes you can borrow if you miss a class*

imageWater bottle: It is really important to stay hydrated throughout the day, so toting a water bottle around will make sure you have quick and easy access to water. Drinking water will help keep you feeling alert during your classes if you’re feeling a little snoozy.

Image from 710keel.com
Image from 710keel.com

Snack: While high school classes do not allow snacks to be brought to class, university classes almost necessitate it. You create your own class schedule, and unless you are fortunate to have a 12-1 lunch block (which is very hard to get) you will most likely get hungry during your classes and not have a proper lunch block. I recommend packing something both easy and healthy. Apples and bananas are great, because they don’t need to be refrigerated. Sandwiches, or wraps are also good options. Smoothies are a quick way to get a bunch of nutrients on-the-go. Microwaveable foods like leftovers or heatable meals can be brought as well, but make sure there is a microwave close by, and that the smell of your food won’t waft through an entire lecture hall.

imageUmbrella: This is only a must-have if, like me, you live in a place where it rains all the time, and is not necessarily easy to predict. It is always best to be prepared for a deluge, and a little collapsible umbrella is an easy way to go.

IMG_5043Pencil case: This one may seem obvious, but there are many things you might need, and it’s good to have a checklist of things to include. Plus it’s an opportunity to show off some personal style with a classy black pencil case, or a home-made one, or, in my case, a cosmetic bag-turned-pencil-case. I used a cosmetic bag one year because I’d lost my pencil case the year before, and I’ve done it ever since. They are really easy to clean, and have plenty of space. Plus most of us have one lying around from that free gift with purchase we got that time.

Pencil case contents:

  • Pencils (remember to pack extra graphite if using mechanical pencils)
  • Pens (check that they have enough ink-most exams require blue or black ink)
  • Eraser (we all make mistakes sometimes)
  • White out tape or liquid white out (sometimes we make mistakes in pen, too)
  • Highlighters (good for noting important things to study in notes)
  • Sharpie ultra fine point permanent marker (useful for labelling things)
  • Ruler (many classes will require the drawing of diagrams on tests or in labs, and they will necessitate the use of a ruler for straight lines)
  • Calculator (there’s always a math class lurking in the schedule)
  • Sticky notes (not essential but I love making notes and putting them directly on textbook pages so I can read the text and my notes at the same time without going between textbook and notebook)

imageLip balm: Particularly in autumn and winter as the air gets dry, a lip balm is good to have tucked away to avoid dry or cracked lips. I really like using Fresh’s sugar lip balm because it is super hydrating, it smells delicious, and it comes clear or in a variety of tints if you want to hydrate your lips and have a bit of lip colour too.

imageHand cream: Once again, very good to have as the air gets dry, because your skin will dry out too. Your hands will be exposed and be busy writing and carrying books and holding up umbrellas, and they will need some TLC during the colder months.

Image from Amazon.ca
Image from Amazon.ca

Hand sanitizer: This is a really big one, because the start of school also marks the start of cold and flu season. With hundreds or even thousands of students back together, germs abound and it is important to always have clean hands before eating, after sneezing or coughing, or after touching something in the public domain that may have been touched by a sick person, like a door handle. It is always best to wash your hands regularly, but hand sanitizer is a quick, on-the-go way to help reduce the spread of germs and keep you from getting sick.

Image from Amazon.com
Image from Amazon.com

Tissues: If all the hand washing and hand sanitizing doesn’t do the trick and you get a cold or the flu, you will be grateful you have a few tissues tucked in the bottom of your backpack. Some cough lozenges also wouldn’t hurt.

Image from Amazon.ca
Image from Amazon.ca

Laptop/iPad/cell phone charger: This is one thing I usually forget to pack, and immediately regret when I turn on my laptop or iPad and find I only have 20% battery left. The phone charger is important, but less so than a charger for your laptop or iPad. You don’t want your device dying in the middle of you typing up an important essay or doing an online homework assignment.

*Note: To be safe, always plug in your laptop or iPad before starting to draft or edit an essay, or start an online homework assignment. This will help you avoid any panic if your device runs out of battery partway through, and will ensure no progress is lost*

Image from Amazon.ca
Image from Amazon.ca

USB memory stick: This one is HUGE, regardless of what level of schooling you are in. I know so many people who have lost entire essays because their computer crashed and they didn’t back up their files. Always keep a USB memory stick with the drafts of any major essays, papers, or projects on it. If you don’t have one, I strongly recommend you get one, and I would say don’t start your first day of university without one. It’s good to get in the habit of backing things up early so that you won’t lose any hard work.

*Note: I cannot emphasize this enough: BACK UP YOUR FILES!!!*

Image from Networksolutionsbd.com
Image from Networksolutionsbd.com

Student card: I am not sure how relevant this one is for high school students, since I only ever needed mine to prove what grade I was in when attending a school dance but in university, it is imperative that you have your student card with your student number on it when you when you go to write exams. They may not let you in the exam room or let you hand in your exam without this card, so it is best to always keep it on your person. Also, many student cards are a bus pass, and a reloadable food card to purchase food with if living on campus.

Image from Amazon.ca
Image from Amazon.ca

Change purse: You never know when you might need some bus money or a few dollars to buy a snack, so having some change on you is always a smart idea. Of course, you can tuck a few bills in there too since you won’t want to carry around a ton of change and be jingling across campus.

And that’s everything that’s in my school backpack!!! I hope this has been helpful for some of you starting up school again, either your first year or your last. Let me know in the comments below what your must-haves are for your school bag or backpack!!!

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you have a lovely day 😃😃