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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Don’t let sleep debt weigh you down

October 21, 2013

Sleep Debt

Let’s talk about Sleep!

Transitioning to college life can be tough and may contribute to loss of sleep and fatigue. Sleep debt is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. It is what leads to mental and physical fatigue.There are a lot of choices to make when you enter post-secondary std sleepingeducation. Choices that might help you balance your demand include whether to work, how many classes to take, and how long study time should be. There are two main reasons for lack of college student sleep:

  • Late night studying
  • “Social” commitments and late night partying

You can’t give up either of the above on a consistent basis. But your body needs sleep on a consistent basis, and this conflicts with the trappings of a successful and fun college life. Here are some tips and information that can help you with sleeping as a College student.

  • Did you know that everyone has their own unique sleep needs? You should be able to go to sleep at the same time, get up at the same time and feel rested during the day. Find out how much sleep you need by trying to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night for a week, see how you feel and adjust from there. No need for naps. It may take a week to adjust, being sleep deprived students that you are, but you can do it. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep at night.
  • According to the National Sleep Foundation hitting SNOOZE does not help. It actually makes you more tired throughout the day. The snooze button is Snooze and Loseone of life’s little luxuries. At best, it’s a psychological crutch. At worst, it’s throwing off your brain chemistry for the day. As well, it’s certainly not helping you get any real sleep; you do not make it back to REM sleep that helps you feel rested. Set your alarm for when you need to get up, get up and give yourself time to get ready without being rushed!

Are you often feeling “run  down”  Did you know?

  • Being sleep deprived impacts the immune system. Our ability to fight off infections becomes more difficult. This puts us at risk during cold and flu season, which is now!
  • The heart and lung function is adversely affected by lack of sleep and is associated with worsening chronic lung and heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • A common myth: Watching TV helps you sleep. This is untrue as TV is stimulating and can interfere with falling asleep.

Tips for sleep:

  • Turn off your cell phone. Pick a time, like after 10pm to turn off your phone so its not a distraction
  • Set yourself clear boundaries. Keep a regular sleep wake cycle, tell dog sleepyourself you will only stay out so long, and stick to it.
  • Have a study buddy. You can keep each other on tract and on time.
  • Exercise. Daily activity can help you get a deeper more restful sleep during the night. Experts generally recommend exercising at least 2-3 hours before bed. However, everyone is different, so try to fit exercise into your schedule where you can. For tips on exercise see our previous blog.
  • Put your computer to sleep. Bright screen savers can be distracting and keep you from sleep.

If your fatigue does not improve with consistent restful sleep, seek medical advice as you could have a medical condition resulting in your fatigue. For depression, sleep apnea, anemia or diabetes to name a few.

For more information on sleep tips see BedTimeNetwork or American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Researchers believe lack of sleep may contribute to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in College students. For more information on mental health and sleep see Mental Health Canada.

Services at Red River College such as counselling, tutoring and academic support check out the RRC student services website click here. These services can help relieve some of the burdens causing you to miss out on sleep.

Visit us next week for info on stress and tips for dealing with it.

From Health Services U of M Practicum Nursing Students

Alexis and Candice