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Stress and Sleep

Stress is the body's response to perceived environmental demands. 

In general, when environmental demands exceed your ability to cope, it creates stress. Being in college can be extremely stressful for lots of reasons.  You are balancing the demands of your course work with lots of day-to-day responsibilities. You're meeting new people, adjusting to a different living environment, perhaps juggling a job and trying to determine your life course all at the same time. You might also experience other stressors including roommate problems, test anxiety, deadlines, midterms, finals, relationships, and your parents.

Here are some tips for managing your stress:

  • Tap into your support network.  Staying in touch with your friends and family can help you feel nurtured and understood.
  • Keep a sunny attitude.  Learning to focus on positive outcomes helps reduce tension and achieve goals.
  • Exercise and get your fruits and veggies!  Eating well will boost your immunity so you can avoid illness and exercise will oxygenate your blood and help you sleep better at night!
  • Know your NO!  Learning to say no to things to avoid overwhelming and over-committing is a gift you can give yourself!
  • Yoga, meditation and talking!  Check out Counseling Services and the Center for Spirituality.

Sleep and Stress are related.  You need sleep to be at your best!  Sleep debts result from not getting enough sleep for several nights. Building up your sleep debt results in a decrease in daytime function.

Here are some tips for better sleep:

  • Relax! An alert mind may make it difficult to sleep. Try to slow the pace of your activities in the evening.  Stop homework at least 30 minutes before bed!
  • Do some light reading until you become drowsy, and then try to fall asleep naturally. (Avoid your phone, computer or TV, the light will keep you up.)
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and nicotine, which are stimulants, and alcohol, which can cause unrestful sleep and frequent awakenings during the night.
  • Exercise and stay active. Twenty to 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity enhances deep sleep, but avoid exercising in the 6 hours before bedtime since it increases alertness.
  • Power Nap. Naps of less than 30 minutes can actually be quite refreshing during the naturally occurring mid-afternoon slump.
  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. A regular sleep pattern reduces insomnia, and increases your alertness during the day.
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