Permanent link for How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Better Zzz's for GV Students on April 24, 2023
As a Wellness Information Team Peer Educator, one of the most common concerns we hear from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students is trouble sleeping. Numerous students have trouble obtaining the sleep they need, whether it's due to trouble falling asleep, remaining asleep, or waking up feeling exhausted. In this blog, we will explore the psychological and emotional impact of sleep and provide practical tips to help students get a good night's rest. Let's dive in!
Think: "Unlocking Your Best Self: The Power of Good Sleep Habits"
When it comes to achieving your goals and feeling your best, quality sleep is a critical component. The way we think about sleep can have a big impact on our ability to prioritize it and establish healthy habits. By recognizing the power of good sleep habits and the benefits they can bring, we can shift our mindset towards prioritizing rest and reaping the rewards of a well-rested mind and body.
The term "thinking" in this sense refers to a variety of activities. You must consider your existing sleeping patterns and attitudes, including whether you value sleep and understand its significance. It also involves being aware of the advantages of getting enough sleep, including enhanced mental clarity, greater physical health, and increased productivity. Last but not least, it is being proactive about changing your sleeping patterns, for example, by putting the blog's advice into practice or looking for extra resources and support.
By "unlocking" the power of good sleep habits and recognizing their role in achieving our best selves, we can take a more intentional approach to sleep and prioritize it alongside other aspects of our well-being.
Feel: "Snooze to Success: Empowering Your Mind and Body with Quality Sleep"
The way we feel about sleep can have a big impact on our ability to prioritize it and establish healthy habits. When we recognize the benefits of quality sleep and the positive impact it can have on our mental and physical health, we're more likely to make it a priority in our daily lives.
The "feel" aspect of this title is all about recognizing the emotional benefits of quality sleep. Getting enough rest can help us feel more energized, focused, and productive during the day. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, improve our mood, and support our overall well-being. By prioritizing quality sleep, we can tap into these emotional benefits and empower ourselves to feel our best.
In this context, "feeling" is about recognizing the connection between our emotions and our sleep habits. It involves understanding the impact that sleep can have on our mood, stress levels, and overall well-being. It also means recognizing the emotional benefits of quality sleep and prioritizing it as a key aspect of self-care.
By "snoozing" to success and empowering our mind and body with quality sleep, we can tap into the emotional benefits of rest and support our overall well-being.
Do: "Take Charge of Your Zzz's: Practical Tips for a Restful Night's Sleep"
There are many factors that can affect sleep quality, including stress, anxiety, caffeine intake, and screen time. Here are some common sleep problems, that students may experience:
- Insomnia: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sleep apnea: a condition where breathing is interrupted during sleep, leading to snoring and daytime fatigue
- Restless leg syndrome: a condition where you feel an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that makes it difficult to sleep
- Circadian rhythm disorders: disruptions in your body's internal clock that can lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at the right times
If you're experiencing any of these sleep problems, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Here are some tips:
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Establishing a consistent sleep routine can help regulate ( your body's internal clock and improve sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid napping during the day, as this can disrupt your sleep schedule.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: Your sleeping environment can have a big impact on sleep quality. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. If you live in a noisy area or have roommates who stay up late, consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to block out distractions. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask if necessary to block out any light that might disturb your sleep.
- Limit screen time : Exposure to the blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime. If you need to use your device, consider using a blue light filter or wearing blue light-blocking glasses to reduce the impact on your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep quality. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol can interfere with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is important for memory consolidation and overall sleep quality. Try to avoid these substances in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you relax and prepare for sleep. Consider incorporating these practices into your bedtime routine to help calm your mind and body before bed.
- Get regular exercise: Exercise can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and regulating your body's internal clock. However, try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep. Aim to exercise earlier in the day, at least a few hours before bedtime.
- Seek help if needed: If you're struggling with sleep despite trying these tips, consider talking to a healthcare provider or seeking help from a sleep specialist. There are many effective treatments for sleep disorders, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for sleep apnea. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs.
In conclusion, getting enough sleep is critical for overall health and well-being. By prioritizing sleep and taking steps to improve sleep quality, you can feel more rested, alert, and focused throughout the day. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're struggling with sleep, as there are many effective treatments available. Good luck and Sweet dreams!
- Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018 Dec;43(12):758-763. PMID: 30559589; PMCID: PMC6281147.,
- https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene ,
By: Aravind Gurusaran Korukonda, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty: The Ultimate Guide to Better Zzz's for GV Students on April 24, 2023.
Permanent link for Combating Stress with Emotional Wellness on April 13, 2023
Springtime has arrived in West Michigan, and with it so has the end of the semester rush. Finals week is approaching, and most of us are probably more than ready to feel the relief of being done with the school year. Springtime also ushers in April, the Month of Stress Awareness.
With “exam cram season” just around the corner many of us will experience increased levels of anxiety and stress related to the added pressures of school work. At GVSU Recreation & Wellness our goal is to provide students with the knowledge and tools necessary to account for and improve their overall wellness, as well as in specific domains of wellness. Aligning our goals at Rec & Wellness with the month of April’s Stress Awareness, our aim is to present you with the knowledge and techniques that can help you manage the added stress from the end of the academic year.
To understand why coping with stress using healthy practices is important, we should understand why stress is aversive to our physical and mental health, especially as it’s related to the added pressures at the end of the semester. Stress that stems from the “exam cram season” is typically linked to decreased sleep, internalized expectations/pressures, lack of positive coping techniques, and/or a combination of these. Experiencing these types of stress can be a hindrance to our mental and physical wellness, causing various physiological systems and emotions to become dysregulated. Some of these symptoms may be reported as:
- Increased irritability
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness
- Decrease in sleep, focus
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Muscular tension, discomfort
- Changes in appetite
- Vomiting, nausea
- Illnesses become more common as immune system becomes less effective
As we continue to progress closer towards our final exams, most of us may begin to notice and account for more of the feelings or sensations that are described above. Being able to identify and attribute your stressful symptoms to the correct source is the first step towards being able to identify and apply a coping technique that is effective and healthy for you. Although it may seem overwhelming to address these stressors during such a hectic time, the CDC explains that healthy coping mechanisms can reduce stressful feelings and sensations, whether they are physical and emotional. In short, finding ways to deal with stress that elicit positive emotions and improve physical and psychological wellness are the best ways to decrease stress.
Dealing with Stress
Because some stressors present themselves on an individual basis (not every stressor is universal to all) it is likely that one form of coping is not going to be a universal solution for everyone experiencing stress. One practice each of us can apply on an individual basis, however, is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the process of connecting and becoming aware of the changes in your body in response to different situations/sensations. This process is a very grounding experience and has been linked to decreases in stress, anxiety, and depression.
Here are a few short mindfulness exercises you can do wherever you are to be able to identify and listen to your bodily sensations:
Box Breathing: An exercise used to regulate blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, stress, and anxiety. This exercise targets our respiratory system to actively reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in our blood stream.
- To do this exercise sit in a chair with good posture (spine in alignment) or lay down flat.
- Follow the graphic at the bottom of the blog post, begin in the top left corner and follow the instructions on the outside of the box as you move along. Repeat these steps, and imagine the circle moving along the perimeter of the box as you go, taking 3-5 minutes or until you feel relaxed and refocused.
5-4-3-2-1: This activity allows us to make time to account for ourselves and our environment, deepening our connection to our bodily sensations.
- In your immediate surroundings, without moving where you are name
- 5 things you hear
- 4 things you see
- 3 things you can touch
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
STOP Practice: A 4-step technique to reduce feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety.
- S: Stop whatever you are doing, stop whatever you are thinking, and dedicate yourself and this moment to practicing mindfulness.
- T: Take a deep breath in and out. Slow down, you may count up or down as you breathe, or even combine other breathing techniques for even better results!
- O: Observe your body. How do you feel physically? Mentally? Observe your surroundings. Focus on small details, like the texture of an object across the room, the unique noises you can hear, etc.
- P: Proceed with intention. Set a time limit for your study session, make sure you’re hydrated, grab your favorite snack, and practice listening to what your mind and body are telling you.
Now that we are aware of how our body might react to the added stress of final exams and how we can use mindfulness to identify those reactions, we can be attentive in our care for ourselves. This time of year is busy for almost all of us, and taking time to hear our body and mind is very important to managing the intense and sometimes overwhelming amount of stress we experience. As you move forward this exam season, I encourage you to use the resources provided in this article to help you, but also refer to more of our great campus resources, as well as experiment with other things that may help you like journaling, exercise, and getting adequate sleep.
Here are some on-campus resources that are here to serve you during this April Month of Stress Awareness:
- GVSU Counseling Center - Especially around this time of year the GVSU Counseling Center hosts events and activities that are inclusive and educational, and are specifically catered towards dealing with the stresses of exams! GVSU Counseling Center also coordinates with West Michigan Therapy Dogs to bring some support pups to the library, this is a personal favorite and a must for any animal lover who needs a break from their studies. In addition there is an emergency/crisis response available for students.
- GVSU Student Academic Success Center - Success coaching is a great option for those of us who may be looking for more personalized help in approaching their learning. The SASC also coordinates with the other campus resources to organize workshops catered to end of the semester learning.
- GVSU Rec & Wellness - GVSU Rec & Wellness is a multi-faceted resource that offers support to students in multiple different ways. There are free group fitness and yoga classes focused on providing students with a positive outlet for reducing stress. GVSU also offers personalized, individual consultations with Wellness Navigators and Wellness Coaches who aim to help students manage different aspects of their overall wellness like nutrition, time management, and stress.
By: Kameron Kempker, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Combating Stress with Emotional Wellness on April 13, 2023.
Permanent link for Press Pause... and Get Outside! on April 7, 2023
It is that time of the school year again for finals, but don’t let studying take up too much of your time! It is important to balance school and time for yourself. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the birds are calling your name! But don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
What the outdoors can do for you!
- Helps motivation and physical health
- Lowers stress and anxiety levels
- Improves sleep
- Stronger immunity
- Supports positive mental health
- Better breathing and sight
Tips for getting outside!
- Make plans with a friend
- Block an hour out of your schedule
- Set a time limit for studying
- Make a reminder
Things to do outdoors on campus!
- Hammock in the arboretum
- Go hiking on the trails behind campus or near Laker Village
- Set up a slackline with a friend
- Have a picnic
- Play sand volleyball
- Read a book or make friendship bracelets on a blanket
- Eat lunch with a friend on a bench
- Ride your bike
- Take a nap under a tree
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Roller Skate or skateboard on the sidewalks
- Set up your yoga mat in the sun
The outdoors improves your overall health! There are many ways to get outdoors on campus. And remember to treat the outdoors with kindness. We want our favorite places to last a long time!
By: Ruhi Khanna, WIT Peer Educator and Climbing Center Staff
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Press Pause... and Get Outside! on April 7, 2023.
Permanent link for The Power of Meditation and How to Use It on March 22, 2023
Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you achieve mental, emotional, and physical wellness. As a college student, you may face many challenges, such as stress, anxiety, and a lack of focus. Meditation can help you overcome these challenges and improve your overall well-being.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves training your mind to focus on the present moment. It can involve different techniques, such as deep breathing, visualization, and mindfulness. The goal of meditation is to quiet the mind and achieve a sense of inner peace and calm.
How can meditation benefit college students?
- Reduces stress and anxiety: College life can be stressful, and it can lead to anxiety and other mental health issues. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, and improve overall mental health.
- Improves focus and concentration: Meditation can help you improve your focus and concentration, which can be beneficial for your academic performance. By training your mind to focus on one thing at a time, you can improve your productivity and efficiency.
- Enhances self-awareness: Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. By observing your thoughts without judgment, you can develop a better understanding of yourself and your feelings.
- Improves sleep quality: College students often struggle with sleep issues, such as insomnia or sleep deprivation. Meditation can help you relax and calm your mind, which can improve your sleep quality and quantity.
How to get started with meditation?
- Find a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your eyes closed.
- Take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Focus your attention on your breath, and try to keep your mind from wandering.
- If your mind does wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Practice meditation for at least 5-10 minutes a day, and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the practice.
In conclusion, meditation is a simple yet powerful practice that can help college students achieve mental, emotional, and physical wellness. By incorporating meditation into your daily routine, you can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, enhance self-awareness, and improve sleep quality. Give it a try and see how it can benefit you.
By: Abdul Ciise, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for The Power of Meditation and How to Use It on March 22, 2023.
Permanent link for Caffeine is Keeping You Up on March 1, 2023
March is here, and at GVSU, March is all about sleep! Winter semester is Recreation & Wellness’s Press Pause campaign, and in March we focus on good sleep health and getting adequate rest. I am going to talk all about the relationship between caffeine and sleep so you can start off your March getting the best sleep you can!
You may have read the title of this blog post and thought, “Well yeah, that is why I drink it.” Lots of Americans drink caffeine daily to help them feel alert and awake in the morning. The FDA states that around 80% of US adults drink caffeine daily. It is common to hear tired voices lament that they have not had their coffee yet, especially on a university campus. But drinking caffeine daily can actually be the reason you don't feel alert and rested without your coffee.
Let's start by explaining how caffeine works.
In the brain, you have a chemical called adenosine. This chemical builds up during the hours of the day you are awake and sends a signal that you are tired by binding to special adenosine receptors. So the longer you are awake, the more adenosine builds up and the more tired you feel. When you drink caffeine it makes its way through the bloodstream and into your brain. Caffeine will then bind to the adenosine receptors and block them. This means that although adenosine is still building up in the brain, your body doesn't know that it is tired yet. This is why you sometimes crash mid-day, the caffeine has left your system and isn't blocking those adenosine receptors anymore, leading to a sudden feeling of tiredness. This is also why drinking caffeine later in the day will keep you up, that caffeine is still blocking your adenosine from making you feel tired and getting the rest you need.
So now that you know how caffeine works to make you feel awake, let's talk about how caffeine use affects sleep quality.
Once your caffeine has worn off and you go to sleep, the effects of caffeine consumption still continue. Even if that cup of coffee was early in the day, drinking caffeine still affects your sleep. Caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, and can overall reduce the quality of sleep you get. Especially if you drink caffeine regularly. Caffeine reduces short-wave sleep; This is the deep restful sleep that makes you feel recharged and alert the next morning.
So what happens for many of us is we don't get good quality sleep so we are tired in the morning and turn to coffee, soda, or other caffeinated drinks. Then that caffeine makes our sleep worse, so we are tired in the morning and drink more caffeine. This creates a vicious cycle of needing caffeine to feel awake because of getting poor sleep. Don't worry coffee lovers, I am not saying you need to give up your favorite part of your morning entirely, but cutting back can improve sleep and stop this cycle.
The safe amount of caffeine in a day is 400 milligrams, which is about 4 cups of coffee. You may not be drinking that much coffee but soda and energy drinks during the day can easily put you over that safe limit. This is also true if you take pre-workout and drink caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine can lead to symptoms I am sure most of us know well, like jitters, nausea, headaches, and a pounding heart rate. It also increases your blood pressure, makes you more dehydrated, and can even cause health issues like problems with digestion.
You can stop this cycle and feel awake without caffeine in lots of different ways. One big one is cutting back on caffeine. If you drink a lot of caffeine or drink caffeine daily this can be hard. One way to do it is to cut back slowly. So if you drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning and an energy drink at lunch, start by just cutting out one of those 3 drinks. Then cut one more, and maybe then you switch to a lower caffeine option like tea. This is going to look different for everyone. Some people may be able to stop drinking caffeine entirely, but for others, caffeine is part of some of their favorite drinks. Just know that cutting back on caffeine (even if you don’t cut it out entirely) will still have benefits.
So now you have cut back on caffeine, but you may still feel a bit tired in the morning. Are there other caffeine-free ways to feel awake?
You bet there are! There are actually a lot. Here is a list of proven ways to boost alertness without that cup of coffee:
- Hydrate throughout your day by drinking lots of water
- Eat some fresh fruit
- Eat a balanced diet
- Nap throughout the day (check out our nap map here!)
If you still can’t shake the sleep off and feel well-rested, there may be some underlying reason for being tired day in and day out. That is when you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Conditions like sleep apnea are fairly common, 1 in 15 people in the US has a type of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can reduce sleep quality and cause other serious health concerns.
Now that you know the ins-and-outs of caffeine and sleep, you are ready to go and tackle your fatigue and get lots of restful sleep. If you want to dig deeper into the topic of sleep, Check out Emilio’s blog post on how sleep impacts fitness, Annie’s blog post on the racial sleep gap, and Stella’s blog post on the importance of sleep.
By: Eva VanWyck, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Caffeine is Keeping You Up on March 1, 2023.
Permanent link for WIT Blog Series is Back! on January 25, 2023
The WIT Peer Educators are back again this semester to share about their favorite topics in nutrition, sexual health, pressing pause and so much more. WIT members are GVSU students from a variety of majors and backgrounds. They are brought together by their passion to support their fellow students in pursuing health and wellness.
Stay tuned every Thursday for the latest blog entry. Have ideas for a blog post? Submit a question to our Ask WIT Form and we'll get one written just for you!
By: Katie Jourdan, Assistant Director RecWell
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for WIT Blog Series is Back! on January 25, 2023.
Permanent link for 4 Tips for 4 Years: Advice from a Graduating Senior on April 27, 2022
I can hardly believe I am graduating in a few days. My freshman year was four years ago, but it seems like yesterday. I’ve grown a lot in the last few years, and I often think about how I felt at the start of my degree. In this blog, I hope to share some ideas and resources that have helped me to not just ‘survive’ but thrive in college!
The importance of good sleep is old news on the RecWell blog - in fact I’ve already dedicated a whole post on how much of an effect poor sleep can have on one's life. This was something that I had struggled with in high school; come my freshman year I reached a point where I had to make a change.
I was formally diagnosed with insomnia and greatly appreciate the help of my doctor and counselor. It can be scary to walk into these spaces but understand that they are here to help you! Everyone should be sleeping at least 7 hours on a consistent schedule. In order to fix my sleeping patterns I set specific bed and wake up times. I also used sound-canceling headphones or white noise such as a box fan or the app BetterSleep along with techniques learned in my counseling sessions.
2. Get organized (and motivated).
A good planner can help you reach your academic and personal goals. This may be a physical planner or something online. I personally carried a notebook or daily planner then at the end of the day entered important due dates into a google calendar. My google calendar leads into the next and maybe most important point of this topic: motivation.
What motivates you to complete your work? For me, I loved to make things look aesthetically pleasing. I color-coded my google calendar, created Pinterest moodboards, and used studying websites such as LifeAt to keep myself motivated and organized. Explore different studying techniques - what works best for you?
3. Understand your relationships.
We make a lot of connections in our daily life. It can be hard to find where you fit in, or to figure out which relationships are actually a positive influence. It can be scary to put yourself out there or walk into new spaces. - but college provides us with so many opportunities to do so! Getting involved in a new sport, joining a club, or something smaller like turning to the person next to you in a class can lead to connections.
Sometimes you may have relationships that aren’t so positive. It is ok to set boundaries with people in your life, whether it’s a professor, a roommate, or a close friend. Not sure how? Our Wellness Coaches and Wellness Navigators can help!
4. Find what helps you destress.
College is stressful and can make it feel like everything is in a state of constant change. It’s easy, and well sucks, to just sulk in your room all day. What do you actually enjoy doing and learning about? There is rarely a better time than now to figure out what makes you happy. Get involved in the community, read a book (is it pretentious to link my goodreads?), or try a new workout. Maybe you just need to take a long bath! Whatever it is, make sure that you set aside time for yourself and your well-being. What was hard for me to grasp is that I can’t always please everyone and that it is perfectly ok to have time dedicated to ‘nothing’. I often wrote personal time into my planner.
So there it is: 4 tips for 4 years. I hope anyone reading this can find ways to improve not only their college experience but their overall well-being. Peace!
By: Stella Sterling, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for 4 Tips for 4 Years: Advice from a Graduating Senior on April 27, 2022.
Permanent link for Your Spring Break To Do List on March 8, 2022
Hello all! This is Katie - taking on writing this spring break blog post so the WIT Peer Educators can take some time to rest, relax and refresh; to press pause if you will.
Is it just me or has this semester seemed really long already?
Now, I know you’re halfway through spring break, but I want to be sure you’re all getting some things done this week. It may seem counterintuitive to have a spring break to do list, but trust me… you’re gonna want to make sure you do some of these things!
Spend time with friends/family - Our social wellness has taken a hit during the pandemic. With more time spent in our rooms and in a virtual world, we’ve lost opportunities to just be in spaces with people. Take some time to be with people you like.
Sleep - Seriously, get some sleep! The WIT Peer Educators have plenty of blog posts on why sleep is so important if you need any reasons to sleep more.
Do something you enjoy - Haven’t read a book for fun in awhile? Haven’t binged the newest Netflix series? Whatever it is (cooking, painting, video-gaming, puzzling, crafting, running, hiking, fishing, dancing, driving, singing….). Now’s your chance!
Unplug - Getting away from technology, especially social media and the 24 hour news cycle can be super cleansing. Maybe go for a walk or call a friend instead?
Whatever you do for the rest of spring break, please take some time to rest.
By: Katie Jourdan, Student Health Promotions Coordinator (and a big fan of resting!)
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Your Spring Break To Do List on March 8, 2022.
Permanent link for Can Lack of Sleep Significantly affect One's Physical Well-being? on March 3, 2022
Spoiler: it can.
Have you ever woken up late and been unable to do everything you wanted to do in the day? Finding yourself staying up late on your phone watching Tik Toks? While these activities seem fun at the moment, they negatively impact more than just your energy, they can affect your body, too. Prioritizing your sleep routine can benefit your personal fitness goals!
Your body without sleep: Hungry!
While it is true that sleeping is our body’s way to rest up the brain, sleep gives a deep meaning to our body’s physical health as well. Previously mentioned in last week’s blog, neurotransmitters give our brain signals. Two of them, called ghrelin and leptin, tell our brain how hungry or full we are. A study done by the National Library of Medicine (NIH), tells us that a restriction of sleep, or sleep deprivation, can raise our ghrelin and leptin levels, causing us to get hungrier. The study also concluded that we tend to choose calorie-dense foods that are high in carbohydrates when we’re sleepy and hungry. Now, carbohydrates are really good for our body - they are our body’s preferred source of energy - but the problem is, the study shows we tend to choose fatty foods for our carb fix with lots of less healthy fats, such as pizza, donuts, fries, etc. when we do not get enough sleep.
Other ways sleep affects the body and your fitness goals
- Helps muscles rebuild at night (think muscle repair after a workout)
- Lowers blood pressure, giving your heart and blood vessels a break
- Increases motivation (which is important if you’re trying to stick to routine!)
- Supports your immune system
- Allows for a steadier blood sugar level in the deepest sleep (which helps lower risk of type 2 diabetes).
So if you’re lacking sleep, you’re missing out on all these benefits!
A step in the right direction
Reading all this, it may be overwhelming to think what is happening to your body with too little sleep, but you can make a change and get more sleep if you want! For example, I personally just found out about google calendar and now like to incorporate my sleep schedule into each day. Giving yourself an idea of when to go to bed and how much sleep you will get is very useful! And,the biggest piece of advice I have is setting a specific amount of time to put your phone away before bed. The Tik Tok video will still be there when you wake up. This has become especially helpful for me being, that I would always be on my phone late trying to chase the next helpful or funny video, but what I realized was, the most helpful thing I can do is go to sleep on time; because waking up late and having to risk missing a class is not the funniest thing in the world.
If setting up a calendar a week in advance or putting your phone away an hour before bed seems like too much, then take baby steps. Maybe just plan a day out. You can put your phone in a place where you cannot reach it before you go to bed. What can also help is figuring out how many hours of sleep your body needs. Testing different amounts of sleep and seeing how your body reacts can be handy. This gives you a plan for how many hours you want to set aside to sleep.
Sleep to access the gains
When you go to sleep early, it gives your body strength to take on the day! It leaves more time to cook, say yes to healthier food options, and even prevent obesity. Make sure to get the proper amount of sleep so that you can make the best choices for your body and chase after your fitness goals (or just feel better physically). For more information on the benefits of sleep, how to get better sleep, and sleep in general, be sure to check out our other blog posts about sleep.
By: Emilio Espinosa, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Can Lack of Sleep Significantly affect One's Physical Well-being? on March 3, 2022.
Permanent link for Unplugging and Finding Time on January 31, 2022
I think we’ve all done it before: the mindless, endless scrolling when we get that spare chance to take a break from work or school. A few minutes of liking Instagram pics on the bus, or maybe a quick look at TikTok during lunch (with the realization that “oh crap!” it's actually been nearly an hour!). Sometimes if I’m in an awkward social situation I even pretend to be interested in my phone (wow, the weather app looks SO interesting all of the sudden). It adds up; so what are we losing to screen time?
Saying what most already know: technology and social media aren’t the best for us.
I look at my screen time and am always surprised by how much time I actually spend on social media. Yet I feel like I never have free time! I’m not alone in this. In a short survey I created last semester, I discovered that of the 45% of GVSU students that reported having no regular leisure time in their schedules, 62% also reported spending 1-6 hours each day on social media (some even said they spent 6-9 hours). It seems that many of us don’t consider social media as “leisure time”. Last year’s Unplugged blog by Sofia talked about how technology use can affect our physical and mental well-being. Today, I’d like to talk more about social media use and the need to constantly be checking our screens.
Screen addiction is a new concept; much of the science around it is from within the last 10 years. But here is something we are starting to realize: experts from recent studies say “the question of whether an adult, or a child, has a problem with technology can't be answered simply by measuring screen time. What matters most… is your relationship to it” (Kamanetz, NPR). Technology and social media use is linked to decreased psychological well-being, signs of addiction, and even physically changing your brain matter.
- Are you troubled, restless, or otherwise unhappy when unplugged?
- Is your technology or social media use increasing over time? Have you tried to limit yourself and been unsuccessful?
- Does your technology or social media use interfere with relationships, job, or school?
- Do you ever feel guilty about your technology or social media use?
If you answered yes to most of these questions you may be struggling with screen or social media ‘addiction’. It’s ok, many people are in the same boat. So what can you do?
What would you do right now if you didn’t have your phone or computer with you? Pretend like you don’t have responsibilities for a moment: the group chat isn’t blowing up, you aren’t waiting for that important email, that assignment isn’t due at midnight. What activities and experiences would you explore? This could be the time to revisit an old activity you used to love or try something new. When I was little I used to pull all-nighters in order to finish a book- I realized that in recent years I had essentially stopped reading for fun. Now that I limit my social media use, I found I truly do have the time to read (even if it’s just for a half-hour each night).
Here's what I did that may help you as well:
- Set screen time limits for some of your apps, especially the ones that are eating up most of your time or don’t make you feel good (hint: it’s probably the social media apps)
- Write blocks of time into your schedule where you can allow yourself to unplug. Often if I don't explicitly give myself time for leisure or unplugging, I don’t do it.
It doesn’t have to be reading. You could try a new workout, like yoga or kickboxing; pick up knitting; get lunch with a good friend (no phones at the table, of course). And try to resist the urge to constantly check your phone. I don’t think the world will end if you accidentally make eye contact with someone in public.
Speaking of eye contact, keep an eye out these next few weeks: I’ll be walking around asking GVSU students how they “unplug”. Share your answer with me and you could win an awesome Unplugged t-shirt from RecWell! Hopefully this gives you some inspiration to get off this webpage and try something new!
By: Stella Sterling, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Unplugging and Finding Time on January 31, 2022.