Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,

Exams are coming up for me at the end of the month and I am STRESSED! So stressed in fact, that I cannot get to sleep at night! Any suggestions?

Jittery & Tired in Strathmore, AB

Dear Jittery & Tired,

I hope my advice helps you because the most important thing to do when preparing to take a test (besides studying of course) is to get an adequate amount of sleep before the exam.

First, make sure you wind down slowly at the same time every night. Have a warm bath with a cup of Sleepy Time Tea (just about every tea company has a type of sleepy time tea available in any grocery store) or milk. Then get into bed and use deep muscle relaxation to help ease the tension out of your body and mind. I use the following steps with my seven-year-old daughter to help her get to sleep on nights when she is too wound up:

1. Lie down and remove all distractions (noise, light, etc.)
2. Take a few minutes to get your breath regular, breathe deeply in and out through your nose. Try to make the length of the breaths match.
3. Keep your eyes closed through the entire relaxation process.
4. Begin with your toes – clench them to the count of 5 and slowly release them to the count of 5. Do this for all parts of your body all the way up to your face and scalp.
5. By this time you body should feel very heavy and almost non-existent.
6. Imagine yourself somewhere you love to be. For example, the beach. Imagine yourself alone on a deserted beach, hear the relaxing lapping of the waves, feel the heat of the sun beating on your face, smell the clean fresh air.
7. Enjoy the solitude of your special place and drift off to dream.

If this doesn’t work I would recommend talking to your doctor about prescription short-term sleeping pills. Learn to relax, school is stressful yes, but it shouldn’t rule your life and affect your health. To ease up on some of the tension and anxiety you are building up daily by cramming and worrying, take breaks in the day for “you” time. Have a long bath, go for a walk, do some yoga, anything but stare at your books. Little breaks will bring you back to study more refreshed and alert and help to ease the tensions inside of you. Good luck on your exams! Sweet Dreams,



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of