Monday, February 27, 2017

Sleep 101

Be in the Know: Sleep 101
College is one of the most exciting times in a person's life. However, it is also one of the busiest, most hectic times. Students juggle having to study, work, and a social life. The ideal 7-9 hours of recommended sleep each night becomes a distant dream. Furthermore, it is no surprise that researchers are finding that students are putting sleep on the back burner to accommodate their busy schedules. In fact, recent research has provided the following information:
  • only 11% of college students have good sleep quality
  • 73% have occasional problems sleeping
  • 18% of college men suffer from insomnia
  • 30% of college women suffer from insomnia
This data is nothing short of alarming. Life has become too fast-paced, competitive, and strenuous. College students are doing their best to hopefully join the workforce to pay off student loans and further their career goals. But as they get caught up in the fast lane, sleep is not always a priority. However, getting a copious amount of sleep actually makes students more successful. Some of the effects and benefits of good sleep include the following:
  • higher grades ("A" students generally get 25 minutes more sleep per night and go to sleep 40 minutes sooner than "B" students)
  • better emotional health
  • improved memory
  • improved focus
Not many students are aware of how sleep is affecting their academic performance.  There are several myths out there that hinder students from improving their sleep. Students often have no idea that pulling an "all-nighter" and cramming for a test can actually hurt grades. More total sleep, especially REM sleep, actually leads to better test scores and grades. Many students also do not realize that lost sleep cannot be regained by sleeping longer or later. Once sleep is lost, there is absolutely no getting it back. So how are we supposed to combat all these myths and get on track? Here are some helpful tips:
  • create a consistent sleep schedule (wake within the same hour daily, go to sleep within the same hour daily)
  • expose yourself to sunlight or other bright light each morning
  • avoid taking naps (and if you do nap, keep it to 20-30 minutes max)
  • avoid going to bed until you are drowsy
  • exercise regularly, but not within 2 hours of bedtime
  • if you snack before bedtime, make it a light snack
  • avoid alcohol and smoking within 2 hours of bedtime
  • avoid caffeine within 6 hours prior to bedtime
There is a long list of suggestions for students to improve their sleep habits. It is hard to be perfect when you are on a rigorous college schedule. Therefore, start out small. Pick one or two things from the list of tips. Start with those. Once you have mastered them, move on to something else. Even just changing a few behaviors can drastically change your sleep patterns for the better.
Snoozin' Like a Panther
The Health Education Resource Center (HERC) is always doing its best to educate students so that they can be healthy and successful here at EIU. The next Snoozin' Like a Panther presentation will be on March 22, 2017 at 7 PM in the MLK Union: Martinsville Room. Here, students can get additional information on sleep and ask questions.
For more information on sleep, please contact the Health Promotion Coordinator, Bree, at the Health Education Resource Center by calling (217) 581-7786, or email  If you would like to speak to a medical professional, please call the Health Service Medical Clinic at (217) 581-3013.

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