Tips With Trish: The importance of sleep

DUBUQUE- A Little Restless

Dear Trish,

I saw your bulletin board on sleep. I feel like this is an issue every semester no matter when my classes are scheduled or how much I am involved in outside of school. I can definitely work on avoiding caffeine after 3 p.m. and trying to be more regular about getting my 8 hours in. I don’t, however, get the computer in your bed idea, so please elaborate. And just so you know, not sleeping in on the weekends, when I finally get a chance to, is just not going to happen.

Signed, A Little Restless

Graphic by Anna Petersen

Trish says,

The demands of school, work, and outside activities like practice make regular sleep patterns a challenge. Throw in trying to have a social life and it gets even more difficult. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but I bet only a quarter of college students get this much sleep.

Studies show creating a sleep schedule and sticking to it helps immensely. It takes 3-7 days for the body to reset its internal clock to a new schedule. This is probably why it is a challenge for you every semester. You go home for a while or have a little break and get into a new routine and then return and it all changes. Trying to have some consistency like going to bed around the same time every night is good. Not sleeping in too much on the days you don’t have early classes or on the weekend goes back to the need for routine. Our bodies like structure and consistency.

As far as the benefit of not having your computer in your bed, or your smart phone for that matter, has to do with the fact that the artificial light from technological devices tinker with the brain’s chemicals that promote sleep, mainly melatonin. Many students keep the television or computer on all night or at least a smart phone in bed or close to it. Not turning these devices off or learning to use them while at a table or desk, may make it difficult for your brain to wind down when you actually get into your bed. And those of you that don’t want to miss anything on social media. Try putting the devices away an hour before bed. You may find that you are less anxious and more relaxed. Don’t worry, it will still be there in the morning.

Another interesting concept, from the University of St. Thomas’ Sleep Center, is that putting on pajamas before bed or something different than what you wore all day can help induce sleep as well. Studies show the body senses the difference. Using your bed mainly for sleep as well as changing clothes before bed can tell your brain that it is time for a different activity….sleep. Set yourself up to be successful in this important physical activity.

Bottom line, sleep affects everything. Performance in school and work, physical and mental health as well as social interactions can all be improved if you get the necessary sleep that you need.

Make it a priority. For more information on how to improve sleep contact the Loras Health Center. They even have sleep masks and lavender for under your pillow to ensure that you have a restful night.

Signed, Trish

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