Sleep

Man sleeping

Additional Resources

If you would like to speak with a Wellness Educator/Counselor sleep concerns you have, please call  (603) 862-3823.  You may also make an appointment with a Health Services health care provider by calling (603) 862-2856. Appointments can also be made online

Sleep is the #2 concerns for college students, including students at UNH. Getting a good night's sleep is essential to being healthy and well. Not to mention it helps improve academics and athletic performance.

Importance of ZZZs

Getting enough sleep helps your body and mind rest and repair and is essential to obtaining the energy necessary to manage stress. Sleep is regulated by our biological rhythms that are generally governed by the circadian rhythms of the earth, moon, and sun. The rotation of earth from morning to night influences our body. It is important for our bodies to be inline with these circadian rhythms, to be awake in the day and sleep when it is dark.

Most young adults need 8-10 hours/night, but most only get 6-7 hours/night.

Light and Melatonin

Light and melatonin, a neurochemical in our bodies, are key factors in our sleep-awake cycle. When the sun sets and lights go low, melatonin is usually released. When the sun rises and light reappears, the production of melatonin is suppressed. When one spends too much time in a room with bright lights or in front of computer monitor late into the night, the release of melatonin is delayed causing disruption to the sleep-awake cycle.

Many students also alter their own biological clocks by not going to sleep when it is dark, not waking at a regular time, and not sleeping the length of time needed.

REM (Rapid Eye Movement)

There are 4 stages of sleep in Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement):

1. Transitional - time between wakefulness and sleep. This stage usually lasts 3-5 minutes.
2. This stage brings you to a slightly deeper sleep that lasts 30-40 minutes. 50% of our sleep time is spent in this phase.
3-4. During these 2 stages, brain activity slows down. Sleep becomes deeper. First REM cycle lasts about 2-10 minutes, and with each cycle, REM sleep increases in duration.

Impact of Lack of Sleep 

  • Increases irritability, may make someone more short-tempered, emotional
  • Aggravates stress
  • Results in a shorter life span
  • Decreases memory, motivation, concentration, problem solving skills
  • Decreases creativity
  • Increases fatigue
  • Impacts athletic performance, driving and other motor skills
  • Increases proneness to accidents and injuries
  • Greater likelihood of headaches and stomach upset
  • Impacts the immune system making it easier to get sick and stay ill longer
  • Can lead to significantly greater psychosocial issues such as depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties

Making Up for Lack of Sleep 

You can’t make up for not getting enough sleep during the week by “binge sleeping” on weekends. This pushes biological clock further off schedule.

Napping 

Daily naps are okay but should be limited to 20-30 minutes a day; if longer it can interfere with your ability to get to sleep and to stay asleep. Even if you don’t fall asleep, finding 20-30 minutes in the course of your day to lie down, be motionless and close your eyes has numerous benefits.

Sleep is regulated by our biological rhythms that are generally governed by the circadian rhythms of the earth, moon, and sun. The rotation of earth from morning to night influences our body. It is important for our bodies to be inline with these circadian rhythms, to be awake in the day and sleep when it is dark. Learn more...

Tips to a Better Night's Sleep

With UNH students in mind, we have created some great sleep tips and techniques to help you sleep better. 

  • Go to bed and get up at regular times, as often as possible, even on the weekends
  • Say no to “all nighters.”
  • Create a sleeping space that is peaceful and inviting.
  • Limit the type of activities you do in bed so your body recognizes bed as resting and relaxing. Some say you should limit activities in bed to sleep and sex (if you are sexually active).
  • Sleep in a room that is at a comfortable temperature, at least 65 degrees.
  • Keep the room dark and if it can’t be dark, wear an eye mask. The space should also be quiet. If not, consider using earplugs.
  • You may not be able to choose your bed but you can have comfortable sheets, pillows, blankets and bed toppers.
  • Exercise daily but not within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Don’t work or study right up until bedtime. Take time to relax (read a book, listen to relaxing music, have a cup of tea or warm milk).
  • Get into a bedtime routine-a warm bath or shower, light stretching, writing in a journal, listen to calming music. A routine tells your body that it is getting close to bedtime.
  • Don’t smoke. People who smoke take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and have less REM and deep non-REM sleep
  • Eat a healthy variety of foods on a regular schedule that provide needed vitamins and minerals.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine, they both interfere with REM and deeper stages of non-REM sleep.
  • Don’t have caffeine any later than mid-afternoon and limit to 250 ml of coffee (about 3 8oz cups of regular coffee).
  • Use aromatherapy to calm the mind and body. Scents that seems to help facilitate rest and sleep include lavender and jasmine.
  • Make a list of tasks you need to do or keep a “worry list” so you don’t need to take these thoughts to bed with you.
  • Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation, meditation and stretching.
  • Don’t force yourself to fall asleep or focus on the clock. Lying still in bed with your eyes closed provides benefits of rest and relaxation.
  • Don’t take sleeping pills unless prescribed
  • Ergonomic sleeping positions

Getting Help for Sleep Concerns at Health Services 

  • Students can meet with our Wellness Educators/Counselors to discuss stress management techniques that can aid in sleeping well. Call (603) 862-3823 or make an appointment online. These visits are covered by the health fee. 
  • Students and employees can meet with clinicians to discuss sleep concerns. Call (603) 862-2856 or make an appointment online

Additional Resources