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Science & Health

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

There’s a saying that when it comes to good grades, a social life and sufficient sleep, you can only choose two. Last quarter, when I took 20 units of classes and was involved in two shows (24-hour Musical and Titanic: the Musical), I really started to appreciate the importance of sleep. There were days when I was too tired to focus in class or have fun with my friends. My grades and social life suffered.

So I interviewed Dr. Chris Colwell, a UCLA neuroscientist who specializes in the physiology of sleep. He told me we all have a kind of clock inside of us that helps our body get to sleep at night and get up in the morning. This built-in “clock” is called the circadian cycle. He offered me some helpful tips for maintaining my circadian cycle.

1) Clear your mind

Stress is a huge inhibitor of sleep. If you’re mentally reciting the names of a bunch of organisms for tomorrow morning’s Life Sciences quiz, that’s going to stop you from sleeping. Staying too mentally active keeps you awake, so relax before you go to bed.

2) Take a nap for 20 to 30 minutes

Long naps may affect your ability to sleep at night, but short naps that last twenty to thirty minutes may keep you alert and energized.

3) Avoid certain types of drugs, drinks and food that may inhibit sleep

According to UCLA physicians who specialize in sleep studies, certain drugs may disturb your sleep. These include nasal decongestants, aspirins and any medicine, such as allergy medicine, that contains caffeine and antihistamines. Lastly, liquids take about one to two hours to process through your body, so don’t drink too much before going to bed. If you do, you might have to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

Colwell also said it’s important to avoid eating too late at night. “If you eat pizza a few times a week at 3 a.m., your body will start anticipating the late-night pizza,” Colwell said. You won’t be able to sleep until you satisfy your cravings.

4) Aim to eat foods that aid sleeping

First of all, you should not rely on medication or other sleep aid drugs to help you sleep. These may become addicting and eventually unreliable after growing tolerance. Many foods, such as milk, bananas, turkey, yogurt, crackers and peanut butter contain a chemical called tryptophan, which aids sleeping, so grab a few bites (definitely not an entire meal) before bed.

5) Exercise

“Regular exercise boosts the circadian cycle, especially during the day,” Colwell said. “Exercise releases a number of chemicals inside the body to reset the clock.” However, he said you should not exercise any later than three hours before bedtime. After you exercise, your body temperature is high and you may have trouble falling asleep until it lowers.

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Students create ‘Alertification’ website to ease enrollment and online shopping

Didn’t get into that class you wanted because your enrollment pass was too late? Yep, we’ve all been there.

Faced with the same problem, Brian Roizen, who graduated from UCLA in 2012 with a Masters degree in mechanical engineering, joined up with his brother Robert, a third-year electrical engineering student with a computer science option, to start the website Alertification to notify students when a class they want opens up.

“We try to find problems that exist or just things that are frustrating online or in real life and try to make it easier,” Brian Roizen said.

Usually they draw from firsthand experiences, Roizen said. The enrollment process at UCLA, for example, was something that had bothered him since his time at UCLA as an undergraduate.

“It was so annoying to have to keep refreshing the schedule of classes page over and over again when I didn’t get into a class that I wanted to enroll in,” Roizen said.

He and his brother decided to make it easier for students by automating the process – meaning you no longer need to manually (and obsessively) check the schedule of classes, or any other website for that matter.

Set up an alert on Alertification, and when a class opens up or a price drops on Amazon, you will instantly receive a text or an email notifying you of the change.

To use Alertification, simply enter the URL of the page you want to be alerted about, then click on whatever you want to be alerted about (the price for Amazon, or the number of people enrolled in a class or on the waitlist, for example). After that, you can remove the bookmark from your browser and just sit back and wait.

Since its launch last Thursday, the site has gained 300 users, Roizen said. There are alerts set up for other universities across the United States, including Penn State, UC Berkeley and even USC. The most popular UCLA alerts were for science and political science classes, Roizen said.

While Roizen is aware that there are similar course and price tracking services out there, he said that he and Robert intentionally made Alertification very general so that it can be applied to any website or any college’s schedule of classes.

“The beauty of Alertification is that it works everywhere,” Roizen said.

The brothers have been making websites together since 2006 when they launched, a website that offers free sheet music for musicians. The site currently gets about one to two million hits a month, and the brothers were able to fund their undergraduate educations through the advertising revenue on it, Roizen said.

Richard Wiley, a fifth-year computer science and engineering student, said he tried the service before it was open to the public. When the number of students enrolled in a general education class dropped below the full enrollment capacity, Wiley received a text message and managed to successfully sign up for the class.

“The whole process literally takes three clicks. Zero time investment,” Wiley said. “It worked for me.”

Have you tried Alertification? Did it work for you? Let us know by tweeting us @dbmojo or commenting below.

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Campus news

Kerckhoff Chalkboard Poses Challenging Question

Spotted in Kerckhoff: a chalkboard that provides a space for UCLA community members to write down what they want to do before they die. The chalkboard is part of “Before I Die,” which, according to its website, is an “interactive public art project that invites people to share their hopes and dreams in public space.” There are similar chalk walls in locations throughout the world, including South Africa, Thailand, India and Ireland.

No word yet on who placed the chalkboard in the Kerckhoff location, but whomever it was probably read the site’s instructions for building your own “Before I Die” wall.

Some participants gave fairly predictable responses, such as “dramatically change my life for the better,” “make a fundamental difference” and “change the world.” And then there were some more unconventional answers…

Here are a few of our favorites.

Before I die I want to…

  • Eat the “Big Fat Fatty” at Fat Sal’s
  • Learn Irish River Dancing
  • Join a nudist colony
  • Have Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s babies
  • Learn how to twerk
  • Have a near death experience

Have you seen the board? What do you think of the project? Comment below or tweet us @dbmojo.

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Arts & Entertainment

Students Dress Up, Host Viewing Parties for Season Premieres of Popular TV Shows “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones”

 Popular TV show “Game of Thrones” premiered for its third season last Sunday, March 31. Upon returning from spring break, many college students scoured the Internet for places to watch the first episode of season three (because, let’s be real, how many college students can afford HBO?).

Saxon resident assistant and big time GOT fan Wade Norris donned a special costume for the occasion. His Game Of Thrones attire includes a Beard Head, which he found trending on Reddit, a furry hat perfect for those cold nights in Winterfell and a goblet handcrafted for him by a friend. Unfortunately, he left his chain-mail patterned hoodie at home. What a bummer.

This tradition started off as a joke, he said, but quickly became a weekly ritual. In this new season there are many things to be excited about such as DRAGONS, life beyond the wall and all of those explicit, steamy declarations of love seen only on HBO.

“I’m excited to the see the multitude of plots balance each other out over the season … and the White Walkers,” Wade said.

Second-year Design | Media Arts students Christine Jackson and Erin Cherry hosted a viewing party for the two-hour premiere of Mad Men’s sixth season Sunday night. Guests were encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters, or wear an outfit reminiscent of the ’50s to ’60s time period. Fans in retro patterns, pencil skirts and sophisticated slacks gathered together on a couch with some Don Draper-inspired drinks to count down the minutes until show began.

At nine o’clock the room fell silent as its fans were sucked into the show’s time warp – any interruptions were aggressively shushed. Hardcore fans were surprised by plot twists, and those less familiar with the show said they enjoyed the elaborate wardrobes and cinematography, and wished their costumes were as impressive as the characters’ everyday attire.

“I love organized viewing parties especially ones inspired by Mad Men,” said Cherry, who dressed as her favorite character, Sally Draper. “I love the 60s culture in the show, all the historical accuracies and the beautiful costume, set and makeup choices.”

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Food and Dining

Read it and Eat: UCLA Library’s Edible Book Festival

Reading has never looked so delicious! Culinary and literary junkies came together Friday afternoon to celebrate the sweet things in life – delicious baked goods and books. The baked goods on display were inspired by the bakers’  favorite books, mostly childhood classics and modern best-sellers.

Participant Lise Snyder, the College library’s collection management coordinator, fashioned 100 dress-shaped cookies to pay homage to the 1944 children’s book by Eleanor Estes,  “The Hundred Dresses.” Other childhood book favorites were featured, such as “The Complete Tales of Winnie- the-Pooh,” “Goodnight Moon” and “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” Lauren Stockly, a graduate student in social welfare, displayed her cake-decorating talents in her incredible, lifelike rendition of “Goodnight Moon,” replicating the cover in melted chocolate and creating rabbit figures out of gum paste.

“The Tale of Peter Rabbit” cake won in the “People’s Choice” and “Best Tasting” categories.

First-year global studies student Alexis Caddell was one of the many tasters who voted for “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” as their favorite cake. “I like the sentimental aspect of the cake and the detail that made the story come out of the book,” Caddell said. The cake’s creator, Lauren Peikart, received the book as a gift in 1992, along with a handwritten note from her aunt, which the visiting student placed next to her creation as a lovely sentimental touch.

Other crowd favorites were “Fifty Shades of Gray’s Anatomy,” created by the students and staff of Canyon Point residence dormitories. Dr. Tara Prescott, faculty-in-residence of Canyon Point, hosted a four-hour cake decorating program for her other residents. Prescott believes in promoting books that make people read (she entered “The Hunger Games” into the festival last year), but was hesitant to promote “Fifty Shades of Gray” for its, well … questionable content. Instead, she combined the concepts of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Gray’s Anatomy.” Canyon residents also contributed a stunning “The Great Gatsby” cake.

Last year’s winners of the “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice” categories were the creators of “The Enormous Crocodile.” Elaine Sakamoto, Dana Iwata, Noah Rosenthal and Laura Juarez of the UCLA Lab School said they wanted to create an interactive cake that children could take a pictures with. See above for a photo of Laura being “eaten” by the cake; in “The Enormous Crocodile,” the crocodile desires to chomp on some children.

Another crowd favorite was the “Game of Thrones” edible book, which was a display of chocolate bark matching the personality of the book’s four houses, or family crests. House Stark was represented by dark chocolate with coconut, symbolic of their creed, “Winter is coming.” Dark chocolate bark with cayenne pepper, cinnamon and toasted pumpkin was a perfect depiction of House Targaryen’s creed of “Fire and blood.” House Baratheon was represented by dark chocolate with pomegranate seeds, and white chocolate with Hawaiian sugar signified House Lannister’s golden hair, wealth and gold.

Did you attend the Edible Books Festival? Tweet us your thoughts about the winner @dbmojo.

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