The Sleep Cycle of a College Student 

(7am) you barely roll out of bed for your 8am class, (10am) go to other classes, (1pm) go to work, (5pm) go to a club meeting, (7pm) dinner with friends, (9pm) start to study for the test you have tomorrow, and (1am) you go to sleep.  

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not getting enough sleep at night. Don’t worry, you are not alone! On average, college students get a whopping six hours of sleep a night according to a study by the University of Georgia. Lack of sleep can take a toll on your mental health, cause a reduction of cognitive performance and affect your memory capacity! Here are five quick tips to getting a better night’s sleep in college.  

Tip 1: Prioritize Sleep     

Think of sleep as a tool. It’s a tool to help you get better grades, better your mental health, and better your alertness. It’s also good to note that nothing can replace the benefits of a good night’s sleep. So, trying to fill yourself up with espresso shots or energy drinks won’t give you the same feeling as catching some ZZZs.  

Tip 2: Avoid Late Day Naps 

Naps during the day can hinder your sleep at night. Dr. Sara Nowakowski, a sleep expert, suggests if you’re feeling especially tired, take a nap—but try to follow these guidelines. If you are feeling tired, try to remain awake and active for at least three hours after your new wake-up time before taking a nap. Also, try not to nap less than six hours before your bedtime. And if you need a nap, try to keep it under 30 minutes. This is just enough time to recharge!  

Tip 3: Take Advantage of the Exercise 

Research continuously shows that exercise results in a better night’s sleep. Exercise is a natural way to help boost your rest because it makes it easier to fall asleep at night. You don’t want to exercise too close to your bedtime as you’ll have an extra jolt of energy. So, aim for placing your exercise routine in the morning! There are some great recreational facilities located around campus and you can find more information about locations and operating hours at 

Tip 4: Get on the Same Sleep Schedule Every Night 

Your body is really good at learning schedules! It learns when to be tired and when to wake up based on the habits you form. So, if you’re changing your schedule up every night, it can be pretty confusing to your body’s natural rhythm. Don’t be too ambitious. If you can’t wake up at 6am, you don’t have to! Do what feels right for your body. Set yourself a wake-up time and bedtime that is challenging, but be realistic. 

Tip 5: Unplug Before Beds 

Your body needs wind-down time! Especially from blue lights like those from your phone screen. As relaxing as it can be to scroll through TikTok right before bed (I know we all do it), it’s not helping your body get into “sleep mode.” Do something that relaxes you that doesn’t involve electronics. This can include reading a book, listening to soothing music, or drawing and coloring. It’s all about doing what’s right for you. If you’re looking for some relaxation tips you can also check out the OSU Wellness App!  


 -Taylor Sienerth, Stress Wellness Ambassador  

Hitting a Wall – 7 Types of Rest to Combat Burnout 

Do you ever feel exhausted the moment you wake up, even after sleeping for 7-9 hours? Unfortunately, just getting the right amount of sleep is oftentimes not enough to recover mentally from your days. Our minds and bodies need rest in multiple areas to help combat fatigue, exhaustion, and daily stress.  

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, internal medicine physician, researcher, and author of Sacred Rest, has identified seven different types of rest necessary to refresh both our mind and body. Intentionality and balance within your self-care routine as it relates to the seven types of rest is essential to overcome burnout. 

Continue reading for tips on how to refresh each area and maximize rest. 

  1. Physical Rest – Can be split into two different categories, passive and active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping or napping while active physical rest is completing restorative activities such as yoga, stretching, acupuncture, massage, and breathing exercises. To optimize physical rest, a combination of both active and passive is necessary. 
  2. Mental Rest – For those who are constantly “on,” mental rest is critically important to avoid burnout. Throughout the workday schedule short 5-10 minute breaks to mentally give yourself a refresh before tackling the next to do. For those who have difficulty turning off your working brain after clocking out, keep a notepad close to write down thoughts or items that you are anxious about to give your brain a rest while not forgetting an important to do. This can also be helpful on a nightstand when trying to fall asleep. 
  3. Sensory Rest – Sensory overload can be extremely taxing on our physical and mental health. Triggers from laptops, screens, bright lights, and background noise can all make our senses feel overwhelmed. If you often find yourself on sensory overload, throughout the day make simple changes like closing your eyes for a minute before moving onto the next task, schedule in screen free time at the end of the day, take tech free walks or turn off the radio when driving.  
  4. Creative Rest – Nowadays, it can often feel like the minute we put out one fire another has already started. Creative problem solving is taxing and drains our creative bucket. To reignite creativity and inspiration take time to appreciate your surroundings by listening to the trees in the back yard, enjoy the arts, or turn your workspace into a place of art by adding images of favorite places to travel, beautiful photography or art pieces. This will help to reawaken the awe and wonder inside of you.  
  5. Emotional rest – Those who identify as “people pleasers” can have an especially difficult time getting rest in this area. We all need to find the time and space to express feelings, reflect and think about your authentic self, and answer the question, “how are you feeling?” in an honest way. Let’s normalize not just defaulting to saying, “I’m fine” when you are not.  
  6. Social Rest – Emotional and Social Rest go hand in hand. If you are struggling in this area, take time to inventory your relationships and differentiate between those that revive you and those that drain you. To really nurture your social rest, focus on those relationships that provide positivity and support in your life while creating separation from those that are mentally draining. 
  7. Spiritual Rest – In times that we are feeling overwhelmed, connecting beyond the physical and mental can provide us with clarity. Take time to identify your self-worth, define your values, find a sense of belonging and reflect on your identity outside of your career. Nurturing your spiritual rest can include engaging with something greater than yourself like meditation, community involvement, gardening, or religion. 

Evaluate your areas of need, where there is room to schedule rest focused self-care in your weekly calendar and create a plan to focus on rest as we enter into the final month of the academic year.  

To learn more about your personal strengths, identity, and how to optimize your self-care to maximize rest, schedule a Wellness Coaching appointment with the Student Wellness Center. Peer coaches are here to support you in living your best life.  

-Wellness Coaching, Student Wellness Center

You Snooze, You Win 

In the busy, fast-paced life college students find themselves living, establishing a healthy sleep routine can be tough. With the stresses of school, relationships, work, and more it can be hard to relax and some might have difficulty falling asleep.  

 We know sleep is important. Just Google “benefits of sleep” and you will find a long list of benefits which, to o name a few, sleep keeps our energy levels up, reduces stress, make us more productive, reduces the risk of depression, improves cognitive functioning, and more. Since many college students struggle to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, let’s look at some ways to get a better night of sleep.  

  • Don’t work in the bedroom. Try not to do any kind of work during the day in your bed. The more time you spend in your bed awake, the harder it is for your mind to get into sleep mode at night.  
  • Caffeine. Cut out caffeine the 4-6 hours before heading to bed.   
  • Limit screen time. Put away the screens leading up to bedtime. Screens emit blue light which can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. You can also buy blue light blocking glasses or download apps that block blue light emitted from your phone.  
  • Try a supplement. Consider using products or supplements like valerian root, sleepy time teas, magnesium, or lavender. All of these have been well-researched and shown to improve sleep quality.   
  • Optimize your bedroom environment. As much as possible, try to eliminate noise and light in the bedroom.  
  • Unwind in the evening. This can help to alleviate stress. Yoga, reading, taking a hot shower, deep breathing, or listening to music are all great options.  
  • Establish a sleep routine. This will train your mind to know when you are ready to sleep. You can include some of the previous tips in your routine! 

I hope these tips can help you relax before bed and have an amazing night of sleep!

A picture of the valerian flower. The root of this flower has been used since ancient times to promote sleep and tranquility.   


-Ben Miller, Nutrition Education, Medical Dietetics Intern   

10 Benefits of Houseplants

For thousands of years, humans have brought plants indoors. But why is this? The following are 10 reasons houseplants can improve your well-being 

  1. Houseplants improve cognitive performance: Given that plants increase the amount of oxygen in your home and remove toxins, they improve concentration, memory, reaction time, and creativity. Experimental studies show that cognitive performance is better in offices with plants, and simply looking at green plants makes us more creative. 
  2. Houseplants reduce the effects of stress : A research study demonstrated that geraniums helped individuals recover faster and more completely from high stress situations. If there is a particular room where you often find yourself getting stressed, consider putting a plant in that room. 
  3. Houseplants boost your mood: Researchers have pinpointed a microbe called M. vaccae, nicknamed “outdoorphins,” which is found in soil and works as a natural antidepressant. It boosts your mood by releasing cytokines, which lead your brain to produce more serotonin. So, just being around soil boosts your mood! 
  4. Houseplants provide a sense of connectedness : It’s human nature to crave connection with others. Plants remind us that we are sharing this earth with more than other humans, and that we are all connected. Everything on this planet plays a role, and having a plant in your home can serve as a reminder of this connection with all other life forms. When we breathe, we take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, making us the perfect team. 
  5. Houseplants reduce anxiety : Plants help us feel calm. Looking at a living plant brings a relaxing sensation that is not experienced when looking at a computer or phone. In fact, studies have shown that patients in hospital rooms with plants report that they feel less anxious compared to patients in rooms without plants. 
  6. Houseplants purify the air of toxins : In today’s world, we are exposed to a number of toxins, even in our own homes. The EPA states that indoor air pollution is one of the greatest risks to our health. Cleaning supplies, candles, beauty products, cookware, smoke, and other sources, release neurotoxins into the air, which can harm our brains. All plants clean the air, but NASA has shown that certain plants are particularly effective at removing toxins.  
  7. Houseplants reduce your number of sick days: Studies have shown that patients recover more quickly from surgery when their hospital rooms have plants. Patients with plants in their room had lower blood pressure, lower ratings of pain, less anxiety, and less fatigue than patients without plants in their room. One researcher has pinpointed an airborne compound that has antifungal and antibacterial properties, called phytoncides, which we absorb when nearby.  
  8. Houseplants teach us the importance of a holistic approach: Caring for houseplants requires patience. Shortcuts won’t work with plants, just as they don’t work with our own health. When a plant is unwell with shriveled brown leaves, we can’t simply paint the leaves green and call it a day. Instead, we ought to look at the whole picture, taking our time and getting to know what amount of sunlight and water the plant needs to thrive. Learning to care for our houseplants more holistically can help us care for ourselves more holistically, instead of opting for quick fixes.  
  9. Houseplants teach us to slow down : Our brains are chronically stressed, because we’re stimulated all the time these days. Taking time out of your day to slowly water a plant and carefully check its leaves gives your brain a needed break from the constant stimulation. 
  10. Houseplants improve sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for overall health. Houseplants naturally purify the air in your home, so having a few in your bedroom will improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Simply looking at plants makes us feel more calm and less stressed, which will put us in the right mindset before going to bed. To get the most out of bedroom plants, choose a plant that continues to release oxygen even at night (most plants do not), such as a snake plant.  

 Joe Doherty, Wellness Coordinator, Wellness Coaching  

  Watch this video to plant your own succulent and start reaping the benefits!


Alcohol and Sleep

Some individuals believe that consuming alcohol before bedtime will lead to a better night’s rest.  

Are they right?  

  • No. Alcohol, actually, leads to poorer quality of sleep. 
  • Many people think that alcohol will help them fall asleep. In fact, about 20 percent of Americans drink alcohol in order to help them go to bed at night.  

Why do people incorrectly associate alcohol with better sleep quality? 

  • Alcohol is a depressant and can help you fall asleep faster. However, this does not mean that your sleep quality is better.  

What happens when you drink alcohol before bed? 

  • There is a battle between the alpha and delta rhythms in the brain. 
    Drinking alcohol before you go to bed initiates alpha and delta activity within the brain. These two rhythms compete and affect sleep quality. 
    Alpha activity happens when you are quietly resting.
    Delta activity is associated with deep sleep and learning and forming memories. 
  • Circadian rhythm is interrupted. 
    Alcohol does make you fall asleep faster. However, you are more likely to wake up during the night.
    There are certain chemicals in your body that build up when you need sleep or have been up for a long period of time.
    One of these chemicals, adenosine, increases after drinking alcohol. This causes you to fall asleep faster.
    However, adenosine decreases very quickly, which causes you to wake up faster when you aren’t necessarily well rested.  
  • Blocking of REM sleep occurs.
    REM sleep is the most restorative type of rest. Less REM sleep leads to grogginess as well as lack of focus.
    Alcohol will block REM sleep, so you will receive very low-quality sleep.  
  • It affects breathing.
    Alcohol is a depressant, so it has a relaxing effect on the entire body.
    It relaxes most muscles, including the throat muscles. This can lead to snoring and sleep apnea.  
  • You will have to go to the bathroom more. 
    Alcohol is a diuretic and can make you have to go to the bathroom.
    During the night, you are more likely to make extra bathroom trips instead of getting quality sleep.  

Instead of reaching for a nightcap, what are some tips for falling asleep? 

  • Stay off your electronics at least one hour before bedtime.  Try keeping your electronics out of your bedroom. This includes laptops, cell phones, and tablets.  
  • Designate a period of wind-down time before bed. Do something relaxing during this time. Some ideas include reading a book, meditating, journaling, or stretching.  
  • Completing a breathing or relaxation exercise before bedtime may help you fall asleep quicker. 
  • Try to wake up at the same time every morning. Adjusting your body’s internal clock will positively impact your sleep cycle. 

If you’re in bed but can’t seem to fall asleep, what should you do? 

  • Get out of bed and walk to another room or space. Outside of your room, do a short, relaxing activity such as listening to music. Keep the lights dim.  
  • Try to stop thinking about racing thoughts. Mentally picture a relaxing scene and notice the sensations that you feel.  
  • Adjust your sleeping position. Some studies have suggested that a side position may be linked to better sleep quality.  
  • Visualize things that make you happy. Think about what you are grateful for in the moment.  
  • Evaluate your comfort. Are you too hot or too cold? If so, adjust the temperature in the room. If needed, put on or remove layers.  
  • Try a mind exercise. One example is counting backwards from 100 while simultaneously closing your eyes.   

If you’re in bed but can’t seem to fall asleep, what shouldn’t you do? 

  • Do not pick up any electronics, no matter how much you want to! 
  • Don’t turn on the lights. Make sure that you keep them dim, even if you decide to go to another room. 
  • Do not look at the clock. This will cause additional stress and will most likely inhibit your ability to fall asleep.  
  • Don’t stress! Most people become frustrated when they can’t seem to fall asleep, especially when they know that they must be up early in the morning. Do your best to relax. 

Next time you think about drinking to help fall asleep, redirect and try to implement a new activity into your nighttime routine.   



Who/What/When/Where/Why of NAPPING

A new academic year is upon us and that means new school supplies, new challenges, and new schedules. Whether you are a night owl or early bird, creating a course schedule that is conducive to your natural sleep rhythm is important. For those who do not have the flexibility to schedule whenever they want, napping is a great addition to those days when a cup of coffee or a quick walk are not enough to make it through the day.  

 When planned and implemented correctly, naps can be extremely beneficial and are not just for gaining an energy boost but they can also help to provide relaxation, improve mood, and increase alertness. Read up on best practices for napping below to maximize your nap and make it through the day.  

When should you take a nap? 

  • You feel unexpectedly fatigued, run down, or sleepy 
  • You know that you will get less sleep that night  
  • You want a quick burst of energy/revitalization throughout your day  

How should you take naps? 

  • Keep them short! Naps should only be 10 to 20 minutes long. Longer naps are more likely to cause grogginess.  
  • Take them within the early afternoon. Aim to be finished napping by 3:00 pm. If you take a nap too late, it can interfere with your sleep cycles throughout the night.  
  • Find an appropriate environment. The room should be quiet and dark with minimal distractions. Set the room to a good temperature.  

What should you do directly after a nap? 

  • Stretch and move your body slowly.  
  • Allow yourself to wake up fully. Don’t rush into any activities. 

What are some benefits of taking naps? 

  • Elevated mood 
  • Alertness 
  • Better performance 
  • Faster reaction time 
  • Better memory 
  • Reduced fatigue 

What are some downsides to napping? 

  • Sleep inertia, which includes grogginess and disorientation  
  • Future sleeping problems such as insomnia or poor-quality sleep throughout the night 

What are some stigmas associated with napping? 

  • If someone naps frequently, they are lazy and have a lack of motivation. 
  • Napping is only appropriate for young children, older individuals, and those who are sick.  

These stigmas are false, and they indicate that we need to be more educated on the potential benefits of napping. Although the best way to stay healthy and alert is to achieve quality sleep at night, occasional naps can really improve your mental and physical stamina!