College students rank sleep problems second only to stress in factors that negatively impact academic performance.* Because sleep is so important to college students' physical and emotional well-being, the Wellness Center has launched a "Sleep Well Campaign" to introduce and reinforce positive sleep habit.
The Sleep Campaign includes:
- Sleep "Fun Facts" posted on electronic boards, such as "Sleeping directly after learning something new will improve your ability to remember it effectively.*"(American College Health Association)
- Sleep consultations, one or two sessions with a counselor to assess what may be getting in the way of good sleep and creating a doable improvement plan.
- Talks by local sleep researchers on sleep and academic performance, effects of alcohol on sleep, pros and cons of naps, and sleep and mood and physical health issues.
- Availability of sleep logs at the Wellness Center and information on sleep log apps.
- Tip sheets on researched sleep well practices also known as "sleep hygiene."
- A DVD/MP3link of relaxation activities including a sleep induction exercise.
Listen to one of our counselors talking you through a relaxation activity:
1. Intro (mp3 7mb) Introduction to Stress management: breath, meditation and relaxation highlighted in this series of tools for healing and better health--led by a Counselor of the H-SC Wellness Center with the intention of having these readily available for home practice when and as needed.
2. 54321 mindfulness meditation (mp3 14mb) : a 15 minute sequence for beginners and beyond to practice coming into the present for balance, focus and peace of mind.
3. Muscle relaxation (mp3 14mb): Progressive Muscle relaxation is a 15 minute core reprogramming plan that is expecially helpful to reduce anxiety, tension, and insomnia.
4. Quick style relaxation (mp3 4mb): a 5 minute shorthand version of the longer progressive muscle relaxation to fit easily into busy days.
5. Breathing basics (mp3 12mb): teaches essential skills of consciously breathing including diaphragmatic, full 3 part, LSD breathing-all at the foundation of a lifelong strategy for wellness.
Tips for sleeping well at H-SC*
- Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on weekends.
This helps to regulate your body's clock. It can be tempting in college to sleep way in on weekends to make up for lack of sleep during the week but this actually disrupts your sleep in the long run. Try to maintain your wake and bed times within 2 hours all week.
- Develop a relaxing bedtime routine.
Engaging in calm activities like reading a book or magazine, listening to music or sipping hot chocolate can help you wind down and creates a buffer zone from the more active parts of your day. Doing the same things regularly before bed cues your brain that sleep is near.
- Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon.
A power nap of 15-20 minutes may help you get through the day, but keep naps short and before 2 pm. Sleeping in late afternoon or evening is very likely to keep you up later.
- Exercise daily.
Exercise is a great way to help your sleep and overall mood. Avoid exercising two hours before bedtime.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment.
Keep your sleep area cool, dark and quiet. If you and a roommate have different sleep schedules, consider eye shades, ear plugs and white noise machines.
- Use bright light by day to help manage your circadian rhythms.
Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and avoid bright light at night. Avoid using computers and other electronics in the hour or two prior to sleep as the light emitted inhibits the production of melatonin, a brain chemical important for sleep.
- Avoid eating big meals several hours before bedtime.
Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. Avoid big meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. A light snack like cereal with milk before bed is ok.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
Although alcohol is sometimes thought of as a sleep aid, it actually decreases sleep quality by increasing night time awakenings, which leads to lighter and less restful sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, Try not to use caffeine after mid afternoon and nicotine within two hours of bedtime.
- If you can't sleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
If you lie in bed when you're not sleepy, you may associate your bed with feeling frustrated about not being able to fall asleep. If you are still awake after 15 minutes, get up and go into another room or, if in a dorm, go to a chair and do something that is relaxing in low light. Return to bed only after you feel sleepy.
- Reserve your bed for sleep.This can be tricky for college students with minimal furniture. Do your best to move your school work, computer and phone off your bed, out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.
*From the National Sleep Foundation adapted for college students.
Sleep Fun Facts:
- "Healthy sleep" means getting enough sleep so you wake up naturally.
- People exposed to light at night had shallower sleep and were more likely to experience mini-arousals during the night. If you read a tablet....switch to a black background with white font. Dim...to half brightness or less and hold it 14 inches away from your eyes.
- New study links higher levels of melatonin with decreased risk of prostate cancer.
- Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.
- Sleep is when your body hair grows most rapidly.
- Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%.
- Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you're sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10-15 minutes, meaning you're still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.
- Sleep, in a single behavior, is the most important thing that we do.
- 50% of our dreams are in color, 50% are black and white.
- Sleeping directly after learning something new will improve your ability to remember effectively.
*Contact the Wellness Center if you would like references for these facts or to schedule a Sleep Consultation.