Catching up on sleep: How to do it the right way

This summer, make it a priority to work on developing a healthy sleep habit.  In spring 2018 the health promotion staff conducted a survey with undergrads at University Park about their health behaviors. You might be surprised to read that 41.7% of the respondents reported feeling tired or dragged out on most days of the week (1). Some students believe that pulling an all-nighter will be more helpful than getting a full night of sleep.  Other students are worried that they’ll miss out on something exciting (FOMO). However, plenty of research shows that we typically need between 7-9 hours of shut-eye a night to function at our best, both academically and socially (2). Sleep plays a vital role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information. Sleeping before studying refreshes your brain and makes it easier to form new memories, while sleeping after studying helps you retain new information (3). Additionally, sleep is essential to a strong immune system. Both sleep quality and quantity have a direct relationship to the strength of your immune system (4).

Below are some tips to help you make up for lost sleep.  First and foremost, you should try to stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule each day, including weekends. Sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday will actually make it harder to fall asleep on Sunday evening. You can also try calculating your sleep debt and commit to an earlier bedtime. Calculate sleep debt by deducting the number of hours you slept from 8 (the average recommended number of hours of sleep per night). So if you slept 6 hours last night, you have 2 hours of sleep dept.  Sleep debt is cumulative. If you slept 6 hours last night and 5 hours the night before, you have 5 hours of sleep debt. If your sleep debt is 5 hours, try going to bed 1 hour early for 5 consecutive nights.

Here are additional tips:

  • Limit caffeine intake to three cups or 300mg daily before 2pm (5).
  • Avoid alcohol three hours before bed (5).
  • Exercise between 5-7pm – this enhances the depth of your sleep. Be sure to avoid strenuous activity 3 hours before bedtime (5).
  • Limit television, laptop use and other electronics while you’re lying in bed. Avoid using screens 1-hour before bed (5).
  • Take a hot shower or read a book to calm your mind without the stimulating effects of electronics (2).

Take the Three Week Sleep Camp challenge (6) with the help of one our staff. Adopting some of these habits can help you catch up on sleep and develop a healthy, consistent sleep pattern. If you struggle with getting enough sleep, call 814-863-0461 to schedule a free wellness session with one of our health educators.

References:

  1. Penn State University’s ACHA National College Health Assessment, Spring 2018
  2. Russo, Lucy. “Sleep Debt: Tips for Catching Up on Sleep.” Org, National Sleep Foundation, 28 Oct. 2014, sleep.org/articles/get-rid-of-sleep-debt/.
  3. Harvard University Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine – http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory
  4. Walker, Matthew P. Why We Sleep unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017. Print.
  5. Maas, James and Robbins, Rebecca. Sleep for Success! Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2011. Print.
  6. Dement, William. The Promise of Sleep. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

Skin Health

It is summer time!  And now is a good time to pay attention to your skincare. You may not be getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean your skin has to suffer the consequences commonly associated with aging.  Simply tweaking a few habits can have a profound effect on the health of your skin. Many toxins are naturally excreted through the skin, which is why internal damage caused by poor lifestyle and nutrition can wreak havoc on skin quality (1). Fortunately, there are many things you can do on a daily basis to maintain a healthy glow.

Protect yourself from the sun: Long-term sun exposure can cause wrinkles, dark spots and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Spending a little time in the sun each day helps your body produce essential Vitamin D (2), but too much sun can cause skin damage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 (even on cloudy days), and don’t forget to re-apply every couple of hours (3).

Drink plenty of water: Proper hydration is essential to maintain a youthful complexion. Even mild dehydration can cause the skin to become dry. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women (4).

Eat foods with antioxidants: Antioxidants are vital to healthy skin because they reduce skin damage and inflammation. Research shows that eating foods rich in antioxidants can restore healthy skin while also protecting skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Some of the best sources of antioxidants include blueberries, green leafy vegetable and melons (5).

Be tobacco free: Aside from increasing the risk of lung cancer, smoking makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. Smoking damages collagen and elastin – the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity.

Engage in activities that relieve stress: Chronically elevated stress levels can trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems (6). Find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly. Consider yoga, walking, and meditation to reduce stress. Your skin will thank you!

Check with your skincare professional for more tips to help your specific skin type.

Resources:

  1.  Krohn, J. (1996). The Whole Way to Natural Detoxification. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks Publishers.
  2. Mostafa, Wedad Z., and Rehab A. Hegazy. “Vitamin D and the Skin: Focus on a Complex Relationship: A Review.” Journal of Advanced Research6 (2015): 793–804. PMC. Web. 6 June 2018.
  3. AAD, https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
  4. Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
  5. American Heart Association, https://www.empoweredtoserve.org/index.php/get-healthy-summer-skin/
  6. Maleki, Aryan, and Noorulain Khalid. “Exploring the Relationship between Stress and Acne: A Medical Student’s Perspective.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology11 (2018): 173–174. PMC. Web. 6 June 2018.

A Peer Educator’s Perspective on Financial Wellness

As a peer educator for HealthWorks, people often assume I have it all figured out. In reality, I am just as eager to learn about our services as I am to facilitate them. Our Financial Wellness service in particular has taught me so many valuable lessons that I have been able to integrate into my daily life.

This service taught me how to make and actually KEEP a budget. Rather than making one and forgetting about it, my budget is now something I refer to regularly. I learned effective strategies for saving money.  I also learned the importance of starting to build credit during my time in college. The financial wellness service dives into how to build credit responsibly and positively so that I can benefit in the future.

Finally, I learned how to manage my student loans and plan for repayment. This was a huge weight off of my shoulders, because it’s something that was always in the back of my mind. Now, I am aware of where I stand in terms of repayment and I don’t feel as overwhelmed.

If you’re struggling with saving money, sticking to a budget, or just curious about financial wellness, this service is definitely for you. I thought I had a decent handle on my finances before participating in this service, but there is always more to learn, and this service will help.

Don’t wait! Get on your way to building financial wellness today. Book an appointment at https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health-wellness/medical-services/myuhs or call 814.863.0461.

Written by Caitlyn Lazorka, HealthWorks member

 

 

Stay Active This Summer

Spring semester has come to an end and summer is approaching. For some students this means starting summer with an internship or a job. These exciting opportunities might also involve being sedentary for long periods of time. So what can you do to keep active during work hours?  Here are some creative ways to stay active if you have an office job or internship:

  1. Change up your routine to work. If possible, instead of driving to work, walk or ride a bike. You’ll get fresh air and work those leg muscles. If you have to drive to work, try to park away from the entrance to get additional steps.
  2. Take the stairs. Skip the elevator and you’ll increase your endurance.
  3. Stand up instead of sitting down. Try changing up the work day by using a standing desk to do your work.
  4. Take calls while standing. If you have the opportunity to stand, do so while talking on the phone.
  5. Move around. Avoid sitting in the same exact position for an extended period of time.   You can stretch your arms or round and then straighten your back several times. This will help increase blood flow.

Written by Michelle Szczech, HealthWorks member

Reduce Stress with Physical Activity

College can be stressful. Stress will always be part of life, so the key question is: how will you respond to it? Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) studied one strategy to help you handle stress during college: physical activity (1). The researchers conducted a 3-day program called “Fitness4Finals” (F4F), which focused on increasing the physical activity of college students during final exams. The goal of the program was to reduce stress levels associated with final exams.

The program included light, moderate, and high intensity exercises. The light intensity exercises included yoga, Pilates, Thai-chi (50 minute duration). Moderate intensity exercises included 50 minute fitness walking, 10-30 minute stair climb, and 4 minute Flash mob. High intensity exercises included 50 minute boot-camp, 50 minute cardio-boxing, and 1.5-5 minute obstacle course. The students participated in at least one of these exercises every day for 3 days.

Researchers examined the change in perceived psychological stress (PPS) of students before and after F4F events. The results revealed that the program was effective in lowering perceived stress of participants. However, physiological measures of stress were not significantly different.

At the end of the program, students said:

  • “I was able to clear my mind and [physical activity] helped me focus more when I did have to sit down and study [for finals].”
  • “[Physical activity] gave me an active outlet and break from schoolwork.”
  • “I felt compelled to relax my mind.”
  • “I felt mentally relaxed after yoga and meditation.”

Being active can be beneficial on many levels, including improving academic performance (2), mental health, social health and physical health (3). You can receive these benefits from any type of physical activity, including fitness walking, jogging, stair climbing, boxing, Pilates, Thai-chi, swimming, and playing basketball, tennis, football. You can make physical activity fun by discovering the exercises you enjoy the most!

College can be stressful, especially during finals. One way to manage stress is by being active. As one of the participants of F4F stated, physical activity can give you an opportunity to clear your mind and relax, which will help you concentrate better during studying. Next time you feel stressed, take a walk or play basketball!

Sources

  1. Koschel, Tessa L., John C. Young, and James W. Navalta. “Examining the Impact of a University-driven Exercise Programming Event on End-of-semester Stress in Students.” International journal of exercise science 10.5 (2017): 754.
  2. Salas CR, Minakata K, Kelemen WL. Walking before study enhances free recall but not judgement-of-learning magnitude. J Cognitive Psychol. 2011;23(4):507–513.
  3. de Vries JD, van Hooff MM, Geurts SE, Kompier MJ. Exercise as an intervention to reduce study-related fatigue among university students: a two-arm Parallel randomized controlled trial. Plos ONE. 2016;11(3):1–21.

Written by HealthWorks member, Deniz Siso

JUUL Vaping

You have seen students smoking a JUUL or e-cigarette on campus.  Are you wondering if these products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes?  According to the US Surgeon General, e-cigarettes have grown in popularity by 900% among high school students between 2011- and 2015 (1). In 2016 alone, over 2 million US middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days (2). E-cigarettes are sometimes advertised as a product that will help individuals quit smoking; however, the Surgeon General reports that the most frequently cited reasons for why youth and young adults use e-cigarettes are curiosity, flavoring/taste, and lower perceived harm compared to other tobacco products (1).

One cartridge for a JUUL equals close to one pack of cigarettes.  JUUL pods contain nicotine, which is an extremely addictive substance (2). Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin.  It is also harmful to the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, immunological system, ocular system, renal system, and reproductive system. Nicotine and smoking is linked to lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, or breast cancer (3). Ingesting the liquid of an e-cigarette can cause acute toxicity and possibly death if a large amount of the liquid is consumed (1).

(1)     https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/2016_SGR_Full_Report_508.pdf

(2)     https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/

(3)     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4363846/