During finals week, most students would agree that their stress level increases, while the number of hours they spend sleeping decreases. This might sound like old news, but did you know that stress and sleep directly affect your overall health and wellness?
Increased stress can lead to decreased sleep, and both can lead to lower academic performance, more illness, weight gain, and increased mental health issues. One way to decrease stress and improve sleep is to incorporate relaxation into your daily routine. Research shows that practicing relaxation techniques may result in recovery from fatigue, better sleep quality, and an increased sense of control and efficacy in stressful situations. Relaxing includes taking a walk in the park, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Try the free yoga classes at the Student Health Center from 4-5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays all fall semester and through finals week.
In addition to stress, sleep can be affected by the blue light that is emitted from electronic screens. Blue light delays the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increases alertness, and interrupts your circadian rhythm. Normally, the pineal gland in the brain begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before bedtime, and melatonin reaches its peak in the middle of the night. When people use a device that emits blue light (like cell phone) in the evening, it takes them longer to fall asleep and they tend to spend less time in a deep sleep (1).
Interested in learning more about sleep? Health Promotion and Wellness offers free one-on-one wellness services to students. Topics include stress and time management, sleep, physical activity, nutrition, healthy relationships and sexual health, and financial wellness. HealthWorks peer educators provide the services. These services are FREE and are in the Wellness Suite, 020 IM Building. To schedule an appointment call 814-863-0461.