You are getting very sleepy…



Column by Jill Kindy. E-mail [email protected].

Sleep: a naturally recurring state of relatively suspended sensory and motor activity, characterized by total or partial unconsciousness and the inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles.

This may be a foreign concept to some students – with that loud roommate coming in at all hours, the paper due tomorrow or the party that just kept rolling.

“Sleep is not only important for having good energy during the day, but also for concentration, weight management and safety,” said Dr. Mohammad Motalib of the UK University Health Service. “Many car accidents can be attributed to drowsy drivers. Also, there is good research to show that people who get adequate sleep are better able to maintain their weight.”

Dr. Motalib suggests getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night in order get the rest and recovery that your body needs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work to add up nighttime sleep with naps. And no, you can’t “catch up” on the weekends.

Sleep problems can stem from stress, medications and physical ailments, just to name a few. If your lack of sleep or inability to sleep is persistent and bothersome, consult a clinician who can help.

Here are a few tips from the Academy of Sleep Medicine. For busy college students, this may seem like a daunting list, but try to incorporate at least a few into your sleep routine.

1.   Get up at the same time every morning.

2.   Get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis. That’s typically seven to eight hours.

3.   Avoid taking naps if you can. If you must take a nap, try to keep it short (less than one hour).

4.   Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities help keep the inner body clock running smoothly.

5.   Don’t read, write, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone or play cards in bed.

6.   Do not have any caffeine after lunch.

7.   Do not have a beer, a glass of wine or any other alcohol within six hours of your bedtime.

8.   Do not have a cigarette or any other source of nicotine before bedtime.

9.   Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal near bedtime either.

10.  Avoid any tough exercise within six hours of your bedtime.

11.  Avoid sleeping pills, or use them cautiously. Most doctors do not prescribe sleeping pills for periods of more than three weeks. Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills.

12.  Make your bedroom quiet, dark, and a little bit cool. It should remind you of a cave. While this may not sound romantic, it seems to work for bats. Bats are champion sleepers.

13.  Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy. If you are not sleepy at bedtime, then do something else. Read a book, listen to soft music or browse through a magazine. Find something relaxing, but not stimulating.

14.  If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, then get out of the bed. Find something else to do that will make you feel relaxed. If you can, do this in another room.  Once you feel sleepy again, go back to bed.