Sleep is vital to overall health and well being and when you don't get enough sleep you are slow, vacant and lacking focus--much like a zombie. The United States is a sleep-deprived nation and the Illinois State University community is no different. Through the ACHA National College Health Assessment, ISU students report lack of sleep as the second highest barrier to academic success. Faculty and staff list sleep issues as a top health concern as well according to Pilot data from the ACHA National Faculty/Staff Health Assessment. Poor sleep habits can develop over time due to putting school, work, family obligations, and fun before your ZZZ's. The research shows that most adults need at least seven to eight hours of interrupted sleep each night. Read below for some guidance on how you may achieve this goal.
Don't Become a Zombie!
Sleep kits are available by stopping by the Health Promotion and Wellness office in 187 McCormick. For more information, call (309) 438-WELL (9355).
There are many benefits to getting a good night's rest on a consistent basis, and here are just a few reasons we need to prioritize a good slumber.
- Improves learning and memory. Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory.
- Positive impacts on metabolism and weight. Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite. Getting enough sleep can aid in weight management by also helping you to have more energy for regular physical activity.
- Increases safety and performance.A lack of sleep contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime and can increase your risk for injuries while driving to and from work or school, or while engaging in sports or other activities that require you to pay careful attention to detail. Being well rested not only reduces your risk for injury, but can help to increase the quality of your performance at school, work, sports, and for many other activities.
- Better mood. Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. When you are more rested, you can enjoy doing more of the things you like to do such as spending time with friends, hobbies, and other activities.
- Strengthens immune system - Getting good, quality sleep on a regular basis helps your body to repair from all the stressors it is exposed to, which also strengthens your immune system. This can help your body to fight off colds, flu and other infections, while also reducing your risk for various diseases.
- Reduces stress. A good night's sleep can help you relax by lowering your blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. It can also help you to cope better with future stressful life events.
Create an Inviting Sleep Environment
- Find a comfortable sleep temperature, usually around 65-67 degrees. Temperatures too hot or too cold are uncomfortable enough to wake the dead.
- Light tells your body it is time to be awake. Purchase a sleep mask, dark shades or blinds to help block out light from where you sleep.
- Block out distracting noises by using earplugs or white noise from a fan or sound machine.
- Reserve the bed for sleeping. Do not do homework, use the computer, play video games or do other stimulating activities.
- Do some stretching, yoga, or find a guided meditation to help your body relax before hitting the hay.
Helpful Habits to Catch Zzz's
- Have a fixed bed time and wake up time, even on the weekends. This will help your body develop a regular sleep pattern. If you do need to sleep in or stay up later than usual, try to limit it to no more than two hours later than your usual bedtime or wake up time.
- Avoid napping during the day. If you do nap, make sure it is no longer than 45 minutes and is before 3 p.m.
- Daily exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly and makes your sleep more restful. Avoid a work out three hours prior to bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol. Being a depressant, alcohol makes you feel tired, but also disrupts sleep cycles which can reduce the quality of sleep. If you do drink alcohol, limit it to no more than three drinks (one drink = 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of 100 proof distilled spirits) and stop at least two hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and energy drinks six to eight hours before going to bed. Caffeine and some of the other ingredients in energy drinks are stimulants and it can take your body several hours to flush them from your system.
- Unplug. Limit the amount of time spent on computers, cellphones, watching TV, and playing video games--especially right before bed making it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Try not to go to bed hungry. Eat a light, carbohydrate-rich snack such as a bowl of cereal or toast. However, eating and drinking in large amounts before bed can disrupt sleep.
- Establish pre-sleep rituals such as taking a warm bath or reading to help tell your body it is time to sleep.
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing to help clear your mind. Do not take your worries to bed with you.
- Find a preferred sleep position and get into it.
- Avoid looking at the clock when waking up in the middle of the night. Looking at the clock can cause anxiety.
If you try the tips listed above and are still having sleep problems, you may want to consider contacting your healthcare provider.