Health-Related Issues -- Fatigue
With our non-stop 24/7 world with email, internet, TV, cell phones & other technology we are always 'ON' & connected to others which prevents us from taking our regular rest breaks. Excessive us of computers---for homework, email & video games---can contribute to daytime sleepiness. Try avoiding the technologies that contribute to our 'non-stop 24/7 world' right before bedtime.The bright light from the screen & stimulating content can affect your state of mind & your sleep quality.
The definition of insomnia is having difficulty falling asleep & /or maintaining sleep. It is often the result of tension & stress---& of course, the more anxious or depressed you get about insomnia, the worse it gets.
Sleepiness due to chronic lack of adequate sleep is a BIG problem in the US & affects many college students. Most young adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night but this amount differs for everyone.
If you feel you have too much to do & not enough time to do it all in, you may force yourself to stay awake repeatedly. Too many nights of forced wakefulness, whether it's cramming for midterms or partying with friends, will eventually eat away at your health & learning.
A constant lack of sleep can cause trouble with:
- Reaction Time
- Processing information
- Mood & behavior
- Fighting off illness
Any or all of the above can have a harmful effect on your grades, your job, your athletic performance, your driving ability or relationships.
What can you do to help yourself?
Maintain a regular sleep & wake cycle----a regular waking time in the morning can help with your sleeping at night.
A relaxing activity right before bed can help you separate sleep time from activity time, i.e. reading a book, listening to soft music, taking a warm bath.
Finish eating 2-3 hours before bed. Eating too much, heavy meals & spicy foods may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed.
Be careful about taking too many naps! An occasional nap can refresh you but sleeping too much or too often during the day can interfere with trying to sleep at night.
Regular exercising makes it easier to fall asleep & contributes to sounder sleep but exercising right before bed will make falling asleep more difficult. Morning & late afternoon are the best times to exercise.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine & alcohol close to bedtime. Caffeine & nicotine are stimulants & can make your more alert & make it more difficult to fall asleep. Alcohol can cause nighttime wakings & less restful sleep.
When to seek professional help
If you have constant problems with
- Breathing pauses during your sleep(sleep apnea)
- Falling asleep at night & staying asleep
- Staying awake during the day(narcolepsy)
- Unexplained decreases in your daytime performance
- Feeling unrefreshed even after a full night's sleep
If you have these symptoms or you feel your constant lack of quality sleep is interfering with your daily routine & activities or your mood & behavior, seek support on campus or in your community. There may be an underlying cause. Your health care provider can help treat the problem or refer you to a specialist.
You may find recording your sleep & sleep-related activities in a sleep diary may help you to better analyze your pattern of behavior.
Information obtained from ACHA pamphlet, A Good Night's Sleep Tips and Support