Sleep Tips for Overall Health
When we feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for us to get everything done, when we wish for more time, we don’t actually need more time. We need more stillness.
~ Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time
A bad night’s sleep or chronically not getting enough sleep can affect every aspect of someone’s life. It can affect how students perform in school, their immune systems and their emotional state. When someone is tired, they are more prone to infections, more likely to get into arguments and less likely to participate in activities they enjoy. In a recent interview, Linnie Vassalo, the Mind-Body Clinic specialist at the Georgia State University’s Counseling and Testing Center, gave students some advice on getting a proper night’s sleep and how that relates to overall health.
Tips for a Healthy Sleep Schedule
- Avoid sleeping next to a smartphone. Put it across the room before settling into bed and turn off notification sounds. Otherwise, there is a tendency to automatically react to any beeps and sounds and engage in text conversation or roll over to take a quick look at social media or Google, which can easily result in an hour of lost sleep. Additionally, the blue light emitted from phones acts as a stimulant and makes it that much harder to fall asleep.
- Try five to 10 minutes of belly breathing nightly before going to bed to help calm hyperactive minds and improve sleep. Lie down and rest hands on the belly. Breathe naturally and normally, and just pay attention to the felt sensation of the breath in the belly. Feel the belly expand during inhale and contract during exhale. Just keep attention on feeling the breath rise and fall. Do not think about the breath, just feel the breath. Direct and re-direct attention to the sensations of breath in the body. This slowing down and checking in with the breath before bed helps to slow the mind and body down and prepare for deeper rest.
- Focus on the breath for improved concentration. Relaxing the mind and body also allows for improved focus. After slowing down with belly breathing, it tends to be easier to fall asleep, and sleep itself is vital to academic performance for numerous reasons. One of these is that, with proper sleep, students are able to focus their attention better in daily life. The ability to focus and sustain attention is key to grasping concepts in class and concentrating while studying. The concentration developed by focusing on the breath for five to 10 minutes a day will carry over into an enhanced ability to focus attention and block out distraction in class and while studying.
- Resist the urge to procrastinate and pull an all-nighter. Adequate amounts of sleep actually help studemts focus and think more clearly. Staying up all night to study can backfire and affect performance on exams. Students who can’t avoid an all-nighter should do it strategically by getting a good night’s sleep before and after.
It’s crucial that college students understand why sleep is so important to their health and academic performance. The tips provided can help students enjoy college life and get enough sleep. Visit the Mind-Body Clinic for more information on relaxation techniques. To make an appointment with a Mind-Body Clinic specialist, call 404-413-1640.
Sources: Linnie Vassalo, Georgia State University and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center