Weekly Wellness:Keeping a healthy sleep schedule


( Emanuele Spies /Flickr Creative Commons)

(Emanuele Spies/Flickr Creative Commons)

We all know that getting a “good night’s sleep” is imperative, especially when in college. But there are many more scientific explanations that informs us how it improves our mental health, physical health, safety and overall quality of life. Repeatedly staying up late and getting up early can begin to hurt you, especially if its done frequently. It might seem fine for the first few nights, but eventually, your body will run out of steam, and you’ll start feeling the effects.

When you’re young, sleeping is a critical component of development. Even in our late teens and early 20s, sleep is important for our overall development (especially our brain development). Studies have shown if you don’t get enough sleep, you lose the ability to make decisions, solve problems, control emotions and deal with change. Unfortunately, it has also  been linked to depression, risky behavior and suicidal thoughts or actions.

I know it’s hard to go to bed at a reasonable time in college, even on week nights. We all have tons of work that keeps us up until the early morning hours. On weekends, its also east to stay up late doing more fun things, if you know what I mean. By managing your time, it can be possible to get to bed at a good time and wake up early for class feeling ready for the day instead of half-dead.

If you get into a habit of going to bed around the same time each night and setting an alarm for the next morning, you’ll begin to feel some positive effects. If you fall into a routine of repeatedly not getting enough sleep, however, you could be at risk of heart or kidney disease. After losing even one to two  hours a night, your body will truly start to suffer, as if it hadn’t slept for two days. This whole ordeal is known as sleep deficiency and can affect everyday actions. For example, your driving can be severely impaired and could put you in potentially dangerous situations.

Studies conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s show that 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different types of sleep disorders. Also, 60 percent of adults have trouble sleeping a few nights a week or more. http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx This could definitely be due to our cell phone usage, but also because of the stress we endure in our everyday lives. The use of cell phones, TV or other technology before bed can be very harmful, not only because they keep our brains going at a thousand miles an hour right before we’re about to sleep, but because they have a lot of physical effects on our bodies as well.

The blue light that comes from our technology can suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles. It is usually suggested by researchers that we give ourselves at least 30 minutes of technology-free time before bed each night in order to get a good sleep. In these 30 minutes, we’re allowing our brain to slow down and focus on relaxing instead of worrying about outside issues or anything we could possibly receive or see on our phones. I know this is somewhat difficult to do in college, because we want to stay connected with our friends as often as possible. But, putting the phone down for a little while before we actually go to bed can be beneficial to our health.

Once again, managing your time and schedule to fit these needs will help you in the long run. Taking time to relax before bed and refraining from doing work or going on your phone might actually improve your overall mood. Our sleep schedules have a lot to do with why we’re so stressed in college, but it actually is pretty easy to straighten out.

Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.

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