Sleeping Essentials

Image Credit: Park View Health

Author: Natalee Wheeler

Sleeping is important. In fact, sleeping is just as important as your college major, your winter break plans, and who you decide to date. Why does sleeping matter so much?

Sleep is important to holistic well-being

Good sleep hygiene can make a huge difference in your everyday life. Sleep can affect every aspect of life, from learning in school, to sports practices, to having healthy relationships. According to the Mental Health Foundation, people that don’t get enough sleep may be four times as likely to suffer from lack of concentration, have relationship problems and 3 times more likely to be depressed and 2.6 times more likely to commit suicide. So, yes, sleep is essential in every aspect of life.

Sleep impacts your physical health

Sleep is essential to helping your body heal and repair heart functions. Sleep is also very important in weight management. For example, a sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity. This may be due to the fact that sleep can help maintain hormones that are involved in feelings of fullness and hunger. When you don’t get enough sleep, hormones become imbalanced and lead to feelings of hunger.

Sleep can also affect your immunity. Sleep deprivation can heighten your risk for developing certain illnesses and make it harder for your body to fight certain infections.

Your brain thrives on sleep

When you sleep, the brain consolidates the information you gained throughout the day and helps you solidify your memory. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to a functioning brain and a healthy mind. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain has trouble concentrating, processing information, and learning new things. Read on for some great tips on how to promote healthy sleep habits within your life.

Top 5 Sleep Hygiene Tips

1. Be Aware of Naps

Too much of a good thing may actually be a bad thing. Naps can sometimes be essential in providing extra energy or boosting productivity, but should be limited to encourage better nighttime sleep. Research has shown that ‘power naps’ (naps lasting thirty minutes or less) are most effective when it comes to increasing energy in the day. Any longer than that, and your body enters a deep sleep cycle, which can make you feel groggy and more tired when waking up.

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2. Beware of electronic distractions

As a college student, it can be pretty normal to set up camp in bed on your laptop, working on that term paper that’s due in a couple days or binge watching Netflix. Really, bed should only be used for two things: sex and sleep. To combat the temptation to stay up late using electronics like your phone or computer, keep these on your desk or in a working environment. If you do use your laptop, phone, or other device before bed, it can adversely affect your health. The artificial light produced by the blue screens suppresses the release of the hormone melatonin, which helps you get more sleep.

3. Don’t try to pull an all nighter or stay up excessively late doing homework or studying for an exam.

Avoid all night study sessions whenever you can, because it may end up with you being more exhausted and sleep deprived the next day. This probably won’t boost your test score, and a sleep deprived brain won’t be able to remember study material as easily as a rested brain.

4. Watch your intake of stimulants and what you eat before bedtime.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause wakefulness and inhibit sleep, so it is best to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks between 4 and 6 hours of going to bed. It is also recommended to avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of going to bed and to limit your consumption to promote healthy sleep.

If you find yourself getting hungry before bedtime, and feel tempted to order a pizza, you may be setting yourself up for a night of restless sleep. Foods that are fatty, fried, or spicy may upset your stomach so it is best to avoid them before going to bed. Foods that promote restful sleep include popcorn, whole wheat crackers, nuts like almonds and walnuts, cottage cheese, and fruits such as cherries, kiwis, bananas, and oranges.

5. Practice a sleep routine

Try and go to bed at the same time or around the same time every night to set your circadian rhythm up for success. Along with this, it is important to set your alarm for similar times every morning. This will ensure that you get the right amount of sleep that your body needs.

A sleep routine may also include practicing calming techniques before bedtime every night. This routine could include mediation, yoga, aromatherapy, drinking tea, taking a bath, reading a book, or doing whatever relaxes you. This helps your body and mind recognize that it is bedtime.

6. Set the mood

Making the environment of your room and bed compatible to sleep is essential in ensuring a good night’s rest. For example, keeping your room at a comfortable temperature and dark will help you sleep better. Having a pair of ear plugs and a sleeping mask can also support healthy sleep (FIY did you know you can get these for FREE at the Office of Health Advancement at MSU?!).

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Resources at Montana State University and in the Bozeman community:

The Office of Health Advancement: http://www.montana.edu/oha/index.html

Services: The Office of Health Advancement offers free services to MSU students. Full time MSU students can speak with a wellness coach to discuss better sleep habits and other things that may be affecting sleep such as stress or nutrition. The OHA also offers free sleep kits to students who many need a few resources to promote healthy sleep.

Location: 1102 S. 6th Ave. Bozeman, MT

Telephone: (406) 994-4380

UHP Medical Services: http://www.montana.edu/health/medical.html

Services: MSU students are able to make appointments with doctors and physicians at MSU’s Medical Services. They can talk to a doctor about their sleep concerns, discuss possible medications, and get referrals if needed.

Location: Swingle Building, East of the SUB

Telephone: (406) 994-2311

Counseling and Psychological Services:

Services: Individual, couple, and group counseling is available for MSU students. If there are parts of your life such as relationships, substance use, or nutrition that may be affecting your sleep, you can schedule an appointment with a counselor to meet with them and explore these issues.

Location: 2nd Floor Swingle Building, East of the SUB

Telephone: (406) 994-4531

Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center: http://rockymountainsleep.com/

Services: The Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center is meant for those seeking more advanced help for their sleep concerns. This center can do sleep testing and help monitor and treat a variety of sleep disorders.

Location: 580 Pronghorn Trail, Suite A, Bozeman, MT 59718

Telephone: 406-999-7570

Want to learn more? Here are some helpful websites:

National Sleep Foundation: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/

American Sleep Association: https://www.sleepassociation.org/

Sleep Education: http://sleepeducation.org/

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