Are you getting enough rest? Want to learn about ways you can improve your sleep habits? BRested this year by evaluating your sleep needs, responding to those needs, and retaining a healthy, rested body.
BRested Topics of Interest
Getting enough sleep each night can improve your daily performance, mood, ability to retain information, and overall physical health. When asked what personal barriers prevented them from getting enough sleep, many BC students said homework, studying, computer distractions, roommates, extra-curricular activities, procrastination and general stress were the culprits.
Popular Coping Strategies Among BC Students
- Setting a bed time
- Completing school work earlier in the day
- Establishing a quiet nightly ritual before bed
- Sleeping in late
Do you wake up feeling groggy? Do you have difficulty focusing in class or retaining information? Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the quality of your sleep.
The Seven Day Challenge
Over the course of 7 days, log your sleep patterns using the following guiding questions. On the last day review your responses to see where you may need to adjust:
- What time did you rise from bed this morning?
- What time did you go to bed last night?
- How long did it take you to fall asleep?
- How many times do you wake up during the night?
- How long were you awake during the night in total?
- About how long did you sleep in total?
Other questions to consider:
- Did you drink before going to bed? How much?
- Did you take sleeping pills to help you sleep?
- Did you look at your cell phone, use your computer, or watch TV before going to bed?
Do you feel rested?
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = exhausted, 5 = refreshed) How did you feel when you woke up this morning?
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = very restless, 5 = very sound) How would you rate your overall sleep last night?
Are you satisfied with your answers? If not, what changes would you like to see? Learn about what affects your sleep and how you can achieve your "BRested" goals.
Sleep architecture follows a repeating cycle of phases, alternating between rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement throughout a typical night. Each cycle repeats itself about every 90 minutes throughout the night.
Alternating Stages of Sleep
Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM)
- Stage 1: A light form of sleep in which one can easily be awakened by external disturbances
- Stage 2: The initial phase of heavier sleep where breathing and heart rate become regular and body temperature naturally decreases
- Stages 3 & 4: The deepest phase of NREM sleep consisting of slower breathing and energy restoration
Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
- The only stage of REM in which the brain becomes more active, the body becomes immobile, and vivid dreams occur
Sleep is a basic necessity for optimal health. Sleep hygiene or sleep health involves a variety of practices that are necessary to sustain biological sleep patterns.
Recommendations to improve your sleep hygiene
- Try to go to sleep at the same time each night
- Try to wake up at the same time each morning
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine after lunchtime
- Develop a relaxing ritual in preparation for sleep
- Use your bed only for sleeping
- Create a dark, cool, and quiet environment for optimal sleep
- Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
Alcohol is a depressant and has the ability to make you feel tired; however, it also has the potential to negatively affect the quality of sleep you receive. Consuming alcoholic beverages can make you fall asleep more quickly, but as the alcohol is metabolized it can disrupt the later portion of your sleep. Individuals who consume alcohol before going to bed may wake up feeling restless and less energized in the morning.
Caffeine is a stimulant, which typically makes you feel more alert and awake. Individuals consuming caffeine before going to bed are more likely to experience trouble falling asleep, lower hours of total sleep, and reduced quality of sleep. If you must consume heavily caffeinated foods and beverages such as coffee, soda, or chocolate do so several hours before going to sleep at night. Try not to consume caffeine within 8 hours of going to bed.
Nicotine is a stimulant, too! Smoking cigarettes with nicotine can decrease total sleep time and impair overall quality of sleep. Marijuana, which contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), decreases REM and non-REM phases of sleep. Use of the drug can disrupt sleep cycles in the long-run, even after a period of abstinence.
The use of cell phones, laptops, and televisions can negatively affect one's ability to sleep because of the artificial light screens emit. Exposure to bright light before bed can increase alertness and make it difficult to fall asleep. Phone calls and alerts received during the night can easily contribute to a disruption in sleep.
Is your use of technology affecting your sleep?
- 4 out of 10 Americans bring their cell phones into their bedrooms and use them before they go to sleep
- 10 percent of Americans are being awakened at least a few nights a week in the middle of their sleep by phone calls, text messages, or emails on their phones
- Individuals who regularly use laptops in the hour before sleep are less likely to report getting a good night's rest
Data collected from the 2011 Sleep in America Poll (www.sleepfoundation.org)
Do the benefits of staying up all night outweigh the costs?
Staying up all night to write a paper or study for an exam may allow some students to feel efficient given limited time constraints and deadlines. However, pulling an "all nighter" disrupts the body's natural sleep cycle and can contribute to sleep debt. All nighters can make you irritable, unable to retain information or concentrate, and sometimes physically weak.
Tips for avoiding "all-nighters"
- Set clear boundaries for yourself. Commit to going to bed by a certain time.
- Stick to a weekly study routine to avoid work overload and late night stress.
- Enlist a support buddy to keep you on track.
- Go to sleep when you begin to feel tired or when your productivity begins to decrease.
- Allot time to do homework on the weekend to reduce workload during the week.