Category Archives: Sleep Management

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.

Welcome to the Wellness Suite

What is the Wellness Suite?
The Wellness Suite is located in 020 IM and offers a variety of services and houses both the Center for Fitness and Wellness (CFW) and Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW).

What services are offered at the Wellness Suite?
The suite is divided into two areas. HPW (part of Student Affairs) offers wellness services and the nutrition clinic in this section of its space. Students from the peer education program, HealthWorks, conduct the free wellness services. As a student you can sign up for services on these topics: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Sleep, Stress, Healthy Relationships/Sexual Health, and Financial Wellness. Each service consists of three, one-hour session over a three week period. These services are open to all Penn State students and are a great opportunity to take a step towards making healthy lifestyle changes! You can also schedule a nutrition clinic appointment with a registered dietitian. The suite includes a relaxation room with adult coloring books, biofeedback software, and other calming features such as zen gardens and relaxation soundtracks. During the gray winter months, you can use a light therapy box in the relaxation room. All are welcome to come unwind! Wellness services and nutrition clinic appointments are free.

The CFW is part of Kinesiology and offers fitness testing. The CFW peer interns conduct fitness assessments and blood lipid/glucose testing. The fitness assessment consists of body composition, VO2 max bike test, push-up, curl-up, and flexibility tests. Several of the Kinesiology fitness classes (e.g. 061, 093, 201) require students to complete fitness and blood testing, but any student is welcome to make an appointment! The fitness assessment takes ~45 minutes and costs $13.27 and the blood testing is $29.76.

How do I sign up for HPW Wellness Services?
Phone: 814-863-0461
Web: Schedule using https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/free-wellness-services 
Click “schedule online”
Choose a service that interests you!
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

How do I sign up for fitness testing with the CFW?
Phone: 814-865-4488
Web: https://sites.psu.edu/kinescfw/schedule-your-assessment/ 
Hours: 7:30 am – 5:30 pm

Physical Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

What does it mean to have Physical Wellness? Physical wellness means getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active every day, and getting an annual medical check-up (1).

Why is Physical Wellness Important? Physical wellness is important because your body needs to be healthy so you can perform to the best of your ability in all areas of your life, including academically.  Physical activity is just one aspect of physical wellness.  It also includes managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.  Many college students struggle with getting enough sleep.  Staying up late to cram for an exam or write a paper can be counterproductive because you will accrue sleep debt.  If you are sleep-deprived, your memory will not be as good and you will not be able to learn efficiently or focus your attention.  Also, sleep, stress and physical activity are all connected.  If you are physically active, you will reduce your stress level and will probably sleep better as well.

How do you cultivate Physical Wellness?  To cultivate physical wellness you must get adequate sleep (7-9 hours) every night (1). Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. Incorporate strength training and stretching into your exercise routine (5). You can achieve a balanced diet by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (1 serving = about 1 cup), eating whole grains and, if you eat meat, make sure the protein is lean (e. g., fish, chicken). Limit saturated fats, but consider including more unsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as chia seeds, avocados, and salmon (6). Avoid consuming trans fats (6). In general, make sure to eat a variety of whole foods to get the most out of every meal (7).

Sources

  1. Ohio State University Student Wellness Center: 9 Dimensions of Wellness https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
  2. Harvard Health Publishing; Harvard Medical School: Importance of Sleep: 6 reasons not to scrimp on sleep https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
  3. UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services: https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/physical
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Why is Sleep Important? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html
  6. Choose My Plate: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats https://www.choosemyplate.gov/saturated-unsaturated-and-trans-fats
  7. Choose My Plate: USDA Food Pyramid http://www.foodpyramid.com/myplate/

Health Promotion and Wellness now accepting applications for peer educators

Health Promotion and Wellness is currently accepting applications for HealthWorks, a peer outreach and education program at University Park. The deadline to apply is March 2.

HealthWorks offers two unique opportunities for students who are interested in health and wellness. These opportunities include facilitating one-on-one wellness services and conducting outreach events and educational workshops. During the application process students prioritize which opportunity they are most interested in.

Participation in the program is a three semester commitment, which includes one semester of training (during fall 2018)  and two semesters of service. For this reason, students who wish to apply must plan to graduate in fall 2019 or later.

Training for the program requires the completion of a three-credit course offered through Biobehavioral Health in the fall semester.  Students learn about the following topics in the course: alcohol and other drugs, financial literacy, sexual health, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress. There are no prerequisites required to register for the course.

After completing the 3-credit course, participants are required to complete 45 hours of service each semester. Members participate in one of two opportunities:  1) deliver free wellness services about stress and time management, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, sexual health and healthy relationships, and financial literacy;  or 2)  conduct educational workshops, hold outreach events, plan and implement health promotion initiatives.  A few examples of the health promotion initiatives include conducting healthy cooking demonstrations, writing blog and social media posts for Healthy Penn State and appearing in The Body Monologues.   A small group of students are trained to provide HIV test counseling.

If you’re passionate about health and promoting the well-being of all Penn State students, then HealthWorks is a great fit for you,” said Christina Volpicelli, a senior majoring in biobehavioral health.  “HealthWorks also offers many leadership and learning opportunities for its members such as video editing, leading health campaigns, public speaking and teaching skills to educate the Penn State community.  Everything you will learn and the people you will meet through this organization will benefit you throughout any career you wish to pursue.”

For more information about HealthWorks, including an application, please visit  http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/wellness/healthWorks.shtml.

 

The Wellness Suite

Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) has new space. The Wellness Suite is in 20 IM building, downstairs and next to Adventure Recreation.  The Wellness Suite offers many great resources for students including walking maps, Manage Stress workbooks, Smart & Safe at State guides, and free wellness services.
The wellness services are designed to help you set goals, develop skills and enhance your health behaviors.  The topics include: nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress (with an emphasis on time management or relaxation strategies), healthy relationships and financial wellness. HealthWorks peer educators facilitate the sessions.  The services were developed using research-based models.  Each service is designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.   Schedule an appointment by calling 814-863-0461.
In the suite, you will find an area with tables, comfy chairs, and a relaxation room.  It’s the prefect place to study or chill out in the middle of a busy day.  The relaxation room features coloring pages and colored pencils, meditation information, a zen garden, and biofeedback software. Visit the Wellness Suite this semester, open MondayFriday 8am-5pm.

Tips to Reduce Stress and Sleep Better

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.

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

Health Promotion and Wellness offers individual wellness services

Health Promotion and Wellness is now offering free Wellness Services for students. The services are designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.  Services are available for:

  • Financial Wellness
  • Healthy Relationships and Sexual Health
  • Nutrition/Healthy Eating
  • Physical Activity
  • Sleep
  • Stress (Relaxation and Time Management)

Each service includes three 1-hour sessions. Trained peer educators deliver the services. Students can schedule an appointment by calling 814.863.0461.  The services are located in the Wellness Suite, 20 Intramural Building.

Sleep Debt

When life gets busy, one of the first things we cut out is sleep. An hour here or there may not seem like a big deal, but those hours can add up quickly. Lost hours of sleep are referred to as a sleep debt.
Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to stay alert and focused throughout the day. Getting even 30 minutes less sleep per night can contribute to feeling sleepy and disconnected. Sleep deprivation can also affect your mood by causing depression, anxiety, and irritability.  When 30 minutes here and there start adding up to multiple hours, it can be hard to feel fully rejuvenated. Sleep debt, like financial debt, needs to be repaid in full if you want to get your body back on track.
Here are some smart tips for catching up on sleep without throwing off your regular schedule:
1. Try going to bed an hour early. If your sleep debt is 4 hours, commit to going to bed an hour early for 4 days in a row.
2. Do not try to make up for all of your lost sleep in one night.  This will throw off your normal sleeping schedule and cause further sleepiness.
3. Naps can be an effective tool to make up for small amounts of sleep. But you should limit naps to 15-20 minute sessions. Naps lasting longer than 30 minutes can make you even more tired than you were before!
If you struggle with getting enough sleep check out these resources and start sleeping better tonight