Health and Well-being - Sleep
Brought to you by 'A Healthy CIT' a multi campus iniatitive.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School sleep aids the immune system, metabolism, memory and learning. So that’s a win-win situation to keep you healthy and alert.
Sleep is also essential for you to learn and retain information. We all know that sleep deprivation impairs our ability to concentrate but it appears that the process of sleep itself helps the brain to process and to make sense of new information! With all of the new coursework that you will be given during your first Semester at CIT, why not make sure that you are getting enough shut-eye to process it all. Sounds like the easiest study habit to us……
How Much Sleep?
According to the US National Sleep Foundation, the exact amount of sleep a person needs varies. However, for young adults (18-25) the recommended range is between 7-9 hours per night.
The effects of sleep deprivation can be huge in terms of your performance of daily tasks, as well as how you do at college. Sleep deprivation affects your mood, your decision making, concentration and how efficiently the neurons (cells that form the connections) in your brain function. The US National Sleep Foundation propose that sleep can improve reaction times by up to 4%. The risk of injury or having an accident also increases when a person is sleep deprived. Driving while fatigued is extremely dangerous.
If do not get enough sleep over a prolonged period of time, it can also damage your physical health and, according to the UK NHS, put you at a higher risk for developing heart disease or diabetes. It can also increase the risk of weight gain and obesity as well as mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
How to have a good night’s sleep
If you constantly wake up tired, are struggling to concentrate or stay awake in lectures or long for a nap, you simply may not be getting enough sleep. Now is the time to start developing a healthy sleeping routine. Here are some healthy sleep tips from the US National Sleep Foundation.
- 1) It’s all about routine. As best you can, try to keep to a regular sleep schedule where you go to bed and get up at roughly the same times each day, including the weekends. We know it’s hard, especially with all of the student nights out, but the benefits will really pay off! Try to do something relaxing in the hour before bedtime to wind down.
- 2) Ditch the screens. Before bed, stay away from bright lights or electronic equipment- that means TV, tablets, laptops or your smartphone. These devices emit a blue light which stops your body from making melatonin, an essential hormone for a regular sleep/wake cycle. Ideally, keep your room a technology free zone but we know that this is sometimes impossible. Instead, avoid using any electronics for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Try to resist the urge to scroll through social media in bed- this can trick the brain into thinking it should be awake! Your news feed can #waituntiltomorrow….
- 3) Get Moving for those Sleep Gains. We all know the benefits of exercise for general health, but did you know that physical activity directly improves the quality of your sleep? Find out what time of the day works best for you. If you find that exercising at night keeps you awake then try to exercise earlier in the day. However, for some people exercising in the evening can actually help them to sleep. Trial and error will help you find out!
- 4) Bedroom basics. It sounds simple but make sure that your room is cool, dark and free of noise. Earplugs can be essential for blocking out any noise in college accommodation. You can get them in any chemist for less than the price of a pint! Other basics include sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow. The bed should be a relaxing space so try to remove work materials such as laptops, books, study notes etc. from sight before sleeping.
- 5) Alcohol to Sleep- It’s a Myth! Try to avoid tobacco, alcohol and large meals in the evening. You might think that you will sleep soundly after drinking alcohol actually disrupts your sleep later on in the night as your body tries to metabolise it.
- 6) Avoid Caffeine in the Evenings The effects of caffeine can last for 5-6 hours. We all know that coffee and energy drinks will give that caffeine kick but did you know that your favourite cup of tea can also contain up to 70mg of caffeine! That can be as much as certain instant or brewed coffees! Best to stick to non-caffeinated hot drinks in the evenings such as peppermint or chamomile tea.
- 7) Track your Progress Keep a sleep diary or download a sleep tracker app to see how much sleep you are actually getting. You might be surprised with your results. The National Sleep Foundation have a sleep diary available on their website (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-diary/SleepDiaryv6.pdf). There are also loads of free apps that you can download such as ‘Sleep as Android’, ‘Sleep Time +’, just search on the App Store or Google Play.
- 8) Pay Back the Sleep Debt Gradually Over time, not sleeping enough can lead to a ‘sleep debt’. Sleeping in at the weekends is tempting, but this could be worse in the long run, as it throws your sleep schedule further off course. The National Sleep Foundation recommends gradually catching up on sleep each night, suggesting going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, or having a short daytime nap if possible.
If you are experiencing consistent daytime sleepiness, drowsiness or insomnia it may be best to visit your GP to resolve the problem and to get your sleep schedule back on track.
5 quick sleep facts
- 1. Sleep can help you avoid those winter colds and flus by boosting your immune system (UK NHS)
- 2. Sleep can boost sex drive (UK NHS)
- 3. Sleep can help avoid weight gain. Those who are sleep deprived eat more because they produce less leptin, a chemical which makes you feel full. (UK NHS)
- 4. According to sleep.org, sleep deprivation is to blame for 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries and 1,500 yearly deaths in the US. (Sleep.org)
- 5. Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep! (Sleep.org)