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Sleep Your Way to Better Health

How to spend the "rest" of your summer

Summer’s here, so it’s time for rest and relaxation. Nobody wakes up feeling bright and cheerful, but here are a few tips to help make sure that you and your student are getting the restorative rest that your body needs.

  • Stick to the same waking and sleep times, even on weekends. One of the best ways to sleep thoroughly is to have a set bedtime ritual and to stick to it.
  • Set your bedtime and wake-up time according to sleep cycles, so that you are not waking up mid-cycle (and feeling groggy). To figure out when to go to sleep, go to www.sleepyti.me and enter your desired wake-up time. The site will count back, so that if you go to bed at one of the dark green times, you will get the healthful 5-6 sleep cycles in each night.
  • Hibernate in a cave. Most people sleep best in a dark, cool, quiet place. “Cold nose, warm feet,” as my grandmother would say. You can place Vegas-style blackout curtains behind your fancy window treatments or in your residence hall. If you can’t control the noise, a white noise generator can also help.
  • Buy a new pillow…often. If you fold your pillow in half, and it doesn’t snap back, throw it away. If the pillow is becoming lumpy, throw it out. Do you have to plump up or hit your pillow into shape? Again, get rid of it. The money you invest in new sheets, blankets, pillows, or mattress topper is well worth the benefits.
  • Nap wisely. Some of the best hours to nap are between 1PM and 3PM, and naps should be kept short, to keep you from feeling groggy or ruining your sleep. Because your time in bed should be spent sleeping through the night, use a comfortable chair for your naps or for anytime that you are not going to sleep for the whole night.
  • Avoid things that keep you awake at night. Caffeine after 4PM can keep many people up. Cardiovascular exercise can excite the body and delay sleep, as can some spicy foods or that high fiber meal that is hard to digest.   
  • When we consider the dangers of sleep deprivation (reduced immune levels, poor responses to stress, increased levels of anxiety, cognitive impairments, greater levels of depression, and higher risks of heart disease, depression, diabetes, and hypertension), the role of sleep as a step towards great health and flourishing becomes even more apparent.

If your student would like more information on sleep, they can write [[eric.garrison, Eric Marlowe Garrison]], MAEd ’94, MSc,  for an appointment when they return – and even for tips over the summer.