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The Importance of sleep for college students


“Your bed should only be used for sleep, sex, and relaxation; not for homework or late-night studying,” said Shannon Seiferth. “Give your space a once-over and consider ways you can create your very own sleep sanctuary.” 

Seiferth is a Wellness Educator/Counselor for Health & Wellness at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). She is one of two Wellness Educator/Counselors on the Living Well Services team. Seiferth is the Wellness Educator/Counselor an individual would go to if they wanted specific coaching for sleep. This Health & Wellness department works from a holistic perspective, so sleep is likely to be discussed by most educators and counselors no matter their specialty. 

Seiferth realized many sleep appointment discussions were similar for students. She decided to begin hosting sleep workshops on Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon for students to connect, discuss and learn about sleep together. If students want to further these conversations, they can then schedule a one-on-one appointment. The workshops are meant to give a broad description of sleep and the problems that may occur. It is not required that students attend the sleep workshops prior to an appointment with Seiferth, but it is an opportunity to discuss and learn about sleep before scheduling an appointment. 

Sleep plays a significant role in all aspects of wellness, so even when students do not schedule an appointment related to sleep, the topic will likely come up with their educator/counselor to get a better understanding of how to help this individual. When students seek out sleep coaching, Seiferth said most are looking for strategies to improve their current pattern of sleep. A lot of students are feeling tired during the day and either are not getting quality sleep at night, or they have trouble falling asleep.  

“Often we are focusing on creating the right sleep environment, creating a nightly routine, managing daily activities that impact our nightly sleep, and implementing strategies to relax the mind and body to wind down for sleep,” said Seiferth. “We often discuss the importance of consistency. We review the sleep cycle and the systems at work such as sleep drive, and we talk a lot about naps. I work with students to create a plan that they feel connected with and confident to implement.” 

When sleep is impacted in a negative way, there is a ripple effect of potentially harmful things that can happen within the body. To name a few – the body’s immune system is stronger when quality sleep occurs helping fight off colds, or flu, whereas poor sleeping habits have been linked to chronic conditions. Lack of sleep can also cause a handful of problems for students within their day to day life. Lack of sleep is linked to low energy and high stress levels. Sleep is also critical for memory, concentration and focus.  

Sleep workshops are available to the UNH community. Individuals who would like to attend need to register online by 9 p.m. on Thursdays. All sleep workshops are taking place over Zoom this semester to limit contact due to COVID-19.  

Photo Courtesy of University of New Hampshire Heath & Wellness

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