When I attended college and university in the '80s, I lived a crazy lifestyle of going from blasts of really studying to partying really hard with very little sleep. When I had to write an essay, I would mull the subject around in my head for a week or so and then, the night before it was due, I would sit down at the kitchen table and try to piece together a spectacular essay. My high school French exchange partner referred to that as a “nuit blanche” – a white night because I never ever got any sleep. Typically, I would be given deadlines for assignments and would say to myself This time will be different, I am going to start this early and not complete this assignment in a daze of sweat, smoke, and no sleep. But, I would generally revert back to the original scenario I described earlier. Part of my problem was that I was attending post-secondary education more because my parents wanted me to - I didn’t really feel as though it were something I had chosen for myself, so I had very mixed feelings about attending university. As I got farther along in my degree program, it did become more about me and less about my parents’ desires and studying more became easier.
I remember going to school when it was dark and coming home when it was dark and never seeing the sun. I didn’t understand about Seasonal Affective Disorder back in those days. I didn't realize that I was struggling because of Vitamin D deficiency. I remember that when Reading Week came around, I would fall into bed for a couple of days to get past exhaustion.
Students have to juggle balancing their social lives and their education. They often struggle with trying to decide if they have made the right choice for their career. Going down to the pub and losing oneself in a drink and dancing seems far more enticing. I often used to wish for a coffee IV to help me attend early morning classes. And during exam time, I would greatly increase the amount that I smoked and decrease the amount that I ate and slept. And the competition….enough to make you cringe, especially if you had to compare your lower mark to a schoolmate’s higher mark. Sinking into a depression about how hard I had worked without improving my grades didn’t make the next assignment seem very welcoming. Little did I realize that having negative thoughts actually reduces the amount of serotonin in the brain which just adds to the difficulty in feeling better about oneself.
If only I knew then what I know now (of course, my prefrontal cortex has grown since those days!!). If I were going back to school now, I would wish for a magical device that would make me sleep better and give me more energy and calm my brain down enough to allow me to settle into studying and doing assignments on time. Oh wait, there is a device I can use to do all that!
The SMART is a simple light and sound machine that uses Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) to guide brainwave states into desired ones. It is portable so it can be used anywhere with a 9-volt battery. Have trouble getting to sleep the night before a big exam? Sleep sessions help guide you into the right brainwave activity for sleep. Exam anxiety? The Feeling Better 2 session calms generalized anxiety. The neurotransmitters stimulated by the device help you dissociate from the anxiety and allow you to settle and focus on the questions.
You can even sync calming meditative music or a Paraliminal CD to help you do better at school or stop procrastinating with an Energize session. My child likes to go to sleep to the sound of a good thunderstorm so we bought a CD with the sounds of rain and thunder and downloaded the tracks onto an MP3. As long as your audio device has a 3.5 mm audio jack, the stereo patchcord will sync the SMART with your audio device.
There is an awesome research study written about the clinical research behind the designing of the sessions on the SMART device.
If I was back in university today, I could use an AVE device to make my brain brighter for those early morning classes without having to pour coffee down my throat and practically over my head. Brain Brightener sessions can increase concentration and memory so the time you spend in class is much more worthwhile. Happy Face sessions can help to dissociate oneself from negative feelings and develop a proper routine of attending classes and starting assignments on time. Meditation sessions can help put you into the right brainwave state so that you can be mindful while meditating. The Brain Break session can be used during a lunch break while relaxing in a library carrel between classes or on a couch outside a gym room. Energizer sessions can give you energy before competing in a team sport. AVE helps with SAD. People can now rethink learning methods and help themselves achieve better academic performance, and balance juggling school, friends and family better while attending post-secondary.
Hmmmmm who knows….. maybe I will register for that Classical Mythology class that I have been wanting to do for years while raising my family - and use a SMART to help me achieve a level of health and wellness while attending school that I did not achieve my first round at university!
by Mary-Anne Janewski - August 25, 2015