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The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

Courtesy of Hill Air Force Base.

Getting enough sleep is essential in getting the best out of your day.

By Michael Montes

Oftentimes, sleep just seems like a way to finally rest after important work is finished and jobs are done. However, this idea is a common misconception that may be more impactful than it seems. Sleep is a critical function that’s frequently neglected, in regards to both its quality and quantity. The amount of sleep one gets each night drastically affects the equally important hours in which work is done. The everyday physiological responses resulting from sleep habits dictate physical, mental, and emotional statuses. 

Sleep quality is expectedly important in the role of physical health. Time spent asleep is a crucial period  where the immune system is repaired and strengthened. A study revealed that people who slept less than seven hours a day were three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept over eight hours.

Cognitive performance is one of the main factors that’s impacted by the amount of good sleep one gets each night. Coordination, memory, attention span, and decision-making abilities are impaired when sleep deprived, which can affect performance in the classroom.

Humans are better learners when given a full night of sleep. Lack of sleep can be detrimental to both short-term and long-term memory., The hippocampus, a vital component of the human brain which is primary in forming memories, is restored during sleep. To put it simply for students, the hippocampus is essential for learning and memorizing terms taught in the classroom, so it’s important that it’s treated properly and given a proper amount of sleep each night. Studies revealed that high school students retain material better when they study before going to sleep, rather than studying in the morning;  a study session before bed can help, as long as time spent studying doesn’t interfere with time spent asleep.

Quality sleep is also paramount in mental health and the production of hormones. Sleep lowers the amount of cortisol (stress hormones) in the brain, and increases levels of dopamine (hormones that deal with how we feel pleasure) and serotonin (mood stabilizing hormones). Without a proper night’s amount of sleep, dopamine and serotonin levels aren’t where they should be, leading to grumpiness and lack of emotional intelligence throughout the day.

More surprisingly, insomniac behavior has been linked to obesity. Since energy is regained when sleeping and eating, it can’t be expected to do so when neither is done. As a result of gaining less energy from sleep, one’s diet offsets and the body tends to have unnatural and unhealthy cravings while sleep deprived. Studies have shown that adults who suffer from insomnia are 55% more likely to be obese while children are 89% more likely to be obese. Unfortunately, the risk of insomnia only increases with age and obesity.

Student life can be challenging. Students are expected to juggle the demands of rigorous courses, extracurriculars, work and personal life. Finding a sleep schedule that agrees with student life can be difficult, yet crucial in improving it. However, there are methods to ensure better quality and increased length of valuable sleep.

Setting an evening routine can be remarkably beneficial to getting into bed at a reasonable time. Routines train the brain to perform tasks at a certain time and pace, giving organization to each day. Reading a book for 20 minutes or brushing your teeth before bed are great examples of before-bed routines.

A killer of effective sleep is artificial light. Light produced from screens, electronics, and other artificial light sources is associated with the natural light present only during daylight hours, manipulating the brain into thinking that illuminated hours are hours to be spent awake. One of the most effective ways to get quality sleep is to black out your room during bedtime. Clinics such as the Cleveland Clinic recommend cutting off screen time one hour before bed in order to get the best sleep possible. 

A theme among insomniac behavior is associating non-sleep activities with sleep. Although it may seem strict, using your bed only for sleep is the best way to guarantee restful sleep. This means that work should be done at the desk, and sleep should be done in the bed; no midday lounging on the bed. Conclusively, seven to nine hours of sleep per night is the recommended range for getting optimal sleep benefits for students. 

 

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Live Music In San Antonio

Live Music In San Antonio

The best places to support local bands and artists in San Antonio.

Live music at The Rustic. Photo Courtesy of sanantonio.culturemap.com

By Michael Montes

It’s needless to say that live music is a staple in San Antonian culture. From pop, soul, country, rock and jazz, the Alamo City is known for its love and appreciation of music and art. Here are three of San Antonio’s favorite live music locales.

The Rustic

The Rustic is an ideal location for live music and grub. The openness of this casual spot allows for guests to feel comfortable with their personal space, and the nightly live music is always free. The farm-to-table food and local drinks are considered top notch by San Antonio residents. The Rustic features a large outdoor clearing with tables and chairs for dining and a stage where a variety of country and folk artists perform. The Rustic is located in The Rim on La Cantera Parkway.

LUNA

Cozy, cool, swanky.  These words could be used to describe LUNA, a classic, sit-down, live music nightclub. The lounge features a bar and dance floor with food, drinks, and what’s been said as exceptional R&B, soul, blues, jazz and reggae music on stage. Admission will cost you and reservations are encouraged; however some nights require neither. Located on San Pedro Avenue, LUNA is defined by its vintage jazz club ambience and laid back element.

Jazz TX

For a night out on the town, Jazz TX never fails to provide an intimate atmosphere, first-rate food, and some of the city’s best jazz. Despite having limited opportunities due to COVID-19, Jazz TX is still San Antonio’s favorite club for live jazz and even streams from the stage every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. The restaurant serves premium food and drinks for reasonable prices through highly rated service. Located in the bottling department of the Pearl Brewery, this sophisticated and renowned jazz club is open on most days during the evening and features Texas based jazz bands and musicians. 

 

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San Antonio’s Favorite Trails

San Antonio’s Favorite Trails

Four trails that San Antonio residents can enjoy can enjoy to walk, run, hike or bike on.

By Michael Montes

Blossoming bluebonnets along the San Antonio river on the Mission Reach trail. Courtesy of thesanantonioriverwalk.com

Main Loop to Vista Loop to Fern Del Trail

The Main Loop to Vista Loop to Fern Del Trail is located within Friedrich Wilderness Park, a favorite among San Antonio hikers and mountain cyclists. Hiking the trail will lead you back to the start, which makes it hard to lose your place. The moderate trail is 2.4 miles long which makes it suitable for both intermediate outdoor enthusiasts and walkers enjoying the scenery. The loop features vibrant wildflowers and other wildlife, and is mostly used for hiking and running, although it is heavily trafficked due to its popularity.

Hillview Nature Trail Loop

Located in Eisenhower Park, this loop trail is very similar to the Main Loop to Vista Loop to Fern Del Trail. Mostly used for trail running, hiking and walking, this heavily trafficked trail stands short at 2.9 miles and is accessible year round, hosting a variety of wildflowers and lush vegetation. Bring a leash for your furry friends as dogs are allowed on the trail, but must be kept on a leash. 

McAllister Blue Loop Trail

McAllister is a local favorite when it comes to San Antonio parks, so it should be no surprise that its trails are beloved by the city’s residents. Like the previous trails listed above, the Blue Loop Trail is a moderately rated loop that brings the trekker back to where they began after hiking, running or even mountain biking the trail. This loop has more access for mountain biking, unlike the rest, but can get hot during summer months with the lack of shade in some stretches. The 6.7 miles of wild scenery can be enjoyed with a dog by your side, and the trail is partially paved and heavily trafficked throughout the year.

San Antonio Mission Trail Loop

For amateur historians or admirers of our city’s downtown district, the San Antonio Mission Trail Loop is very unique to our city. 15.1 miles long, this trail guides its travelers to each of the missions in San Antonio. The trail has paved paths which makes it easy to navigate, and overlooks the San Antonio river for some beautiful scenery. Road biking and walking are most popularly done on this loop, and other activities are of easy access year round, such as near access to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. Dogs are also allowed on this trail, but remember to bring a leash.

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Ditch Obesity by Ditching Junk Food

Easy access to junk food across America makes an easy option for many; however, it’s leading cause in obesity may interest you. 

By Michael Montes

Courtesy of TIME Magazine

Fast food. It’s cheap, everywhere, and sometimes it just hits the spot. Now it’s easier than ever to access fast food with delivery and ordering services such as Uber Eats and Doordash, which eliminate the task of picking up meal orders by delivering them right to the customer’s home. A survey conducted by U.S. Foods found that Uber Eats is the most popular app, followed by GrubHub, Doordash, and Postmates.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the consumption of fast food has substantially increased ever since COVID-19 set new guidelines for day to day life. The amount of digital orders through third-party food delivery apps spiked in Spring  and drive-thrus are thriving in this age of contactless dining.

According to CNN Business, McDonald’s stated that, “roughly 90% of its US sales came through its drive-thru lanes.”

However, it’s an undeniable fact that fast food takes a toll on a consumer’s health when eaten frequently. Trailing right behind genetic factors, overconsumption of heavily processed foods is the second leading cause of obesity. Junk food is often more familiar to a science lab than it is to a kitchen, as it’s highly engineered to taste good, last long, and get people hooked. The low prices and high accessibility of junk food promote overeating and an unhealthy diet.

Consequently, America’s obesity problem is only growing more problematic. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that the obesity rate in America surpassed 40% in 2017 and has been sailing in the 40% zone ever since. Recently, the prevalence of obesity among adults strayed from the 30.5% target of the Healthy People 2020 goal, an objective that tracks the proportion of adults with obesity.

It’s known that obesity can lead to numerous health problems, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, diabetes, and sleep apnea. However, according to Obesity Action Org (OAC), recent studies in human models have demonstrated that obesity can lead to an impaired immune system that increases the risks and dangers of diseases and their symptoms.

In regards to recent concerns, obesity has been shown to worsen outcomes of COVID-19. As a person’s body mass index (BMI) increases, the risk of falling susceptible to diseases increases, including COVID-19.

“Having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection,” the CDC states. 

Nonetheless, having a high BMI doesn’t necessarily mean a person is obese or unhealthy. A person’s body mass index is a measure of their mass to their height, which means that having a high muscle mass rather than a large amount of body fat can make one appear overweight or obese when in fact they’re healthy.

Pro athletes often appear obese on a measure of their BMI, regardless of how physically fit and healthy they are. In fact, stated by National Public Radio (NPR), there is no Denver Broncos player with a normal BMI (18.5 to 24.9); on average every player has a BMI of 30 or greater, falling into the obese range.

Weight isn’t necessarily related to health risks. Rather, a person’s body composition is what’s linked to overall health.

Obesity is complex and can’t simply be hurdled by willpower; genetic obesity can be extremely challenging to overcome, but starting in small steps is often what it takes to conquer these challenges.

A great way to start is to eat a balanced diet full of nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and vitamins. Access to healthy foods and exercise is key in steering towards the path of becoming healthy. A study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that healthy food isn’t any more expensive than junk food.

Although it might seem intimidating to visit a local supermarket given the current conditions, Amazon and other delivery services offer delivery fresh produce right to the buyer’s doorstep. Ditching heavily processed foods may be one of the most effective ways to ditch obesity.