Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sleep Hygiene

By: Alex Salem | Intern 
We survived midterms and finals are right around the corner. With homework, projects, and social obligations, it is easy to put sleep on the back burner. Sleep is important in order for the mind and body to restore itself. Getting good sleep leads to better memorization, better grades, and better wellbeing.
Eating a bigger meal closer to bedtime isn’t a bad idea…. Myth
Fact- Eating junk food late at night can causes problems that interfere with sleep. Junk food can cause stomach pain, inflammation, heartburn and cause you to have digestion issues throughout the night.  If you need a midnight snack, some healthier food choices would include: yogurt, fruits, vegetables, crackers, and whole grain cereal. Try to keep it as light as possible.
If I get 5 to 6 hours of sleep, I will be fine…. Myth
Fact- It is important especially college students to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.  This ensures the body has adequate time to restore itself. During sleep, a process called memory consolidation occurs.  When this occurs, your brain takes everything you have learned that day and sorts, processes, and stores it. If you are having trouble reaching 7-9 hours of sleep a night, try to practice better time management, planning, and prioritizing. Sleep should be a priority! Getting enough sleep is important. If you still cannot get enough sleep, contact the Health Education Resource Center or Health Service to receive information on possible sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep walking, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. Getting enough sleep is very important for your body and mind to function at its best. 
I can pull an all-nighter and make up the sleep I lost the following day…. Myth
Fact- Lost sleep cannot be regained. Once you lose sleep, it is gone. Sleeping in later the next day will not offer you many benefits.  Instead, it will interrupt your sleep patterns and leave you feeling groggy.  It is important to get enough sleep every night so the body is rested and refreshed for the next day.
Long naps are always a great idea…. Myth
Fact- Taking a long nap and/or taking a nap later in the day is not beneficial. Naps should be earlier in the day and around 20-30 minutes. If you take a longer nap, your body will think you are going to bed for the night and will go into REM sleep. For example if someone takes a nap longer than 30 minutes then the body will sleep longer and the person will start to dream in this case rem sleep. You will feel groggy when you interrupt your body from REM sleep after only a couple of hours. If you nap for 20-30 minutes, you will wake up with increased alertness, memory retention, and energy.
Tips for Consistent, High Quality Sleep:
  1. Turn off electronic devices. Avoid social media and Netflix when you are tired.
  2. Create a relaxing sleep environment.
  3. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking before bed. These activities can cause restless sleep.
  4. Do not exercise at least 2 hours before bed. Exercising will increase your heart rate and body temperature. Your body will be more alert if you exercise at night and will cause you not to sleep. 
For more information about sleep contact the Health Education Resource Center at 217-581-7786 or email
National Sleep Foundation. (2011). Myths and Facts.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Sleep and sleep disorders.
Health Education Resource Center. (2015). Sleep health.

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