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The benefits of counting enough sheep

Getting enough sleep is critical for student success

By Brad Nicholson
On April 12, 2019

As students prepare for finals this spring semester they may have a different, bigger issue to work on: Sleep. Most students may not understand the importance of keeping a healthy sleep schedule and what that means.  

Director of the Eastern Iowa Sleep Center Melissa Walsh said one problem is the issue of different substances. “Go home before last call,” stated Walsh. “If you’re finding yourself having five or six beers before you go to sleep, you have chronic fatigue.”  

She added that even a few drinks of alcohol will put a person’s sleep pattern into disarray by obstructing oxygen flow, giving a sort of temporary sleep apnea that is unavoidable. 

Walsh said a healthy sleeping habit is critical to success. Long term fatigue and exhaustion are commonly experienced today and is very widespread amongst the millennial youths, she added. 

“Say you’ve got finals in the morning and you’ve got an hour or two break, take a 20-minute nap,” Walsh said. “Then hit the next class, that will help you stay awake.” 

In addition, Walsh said another obstacle to obtaining quality rest is caffeine. “Energy drinks are definitely not good for you,” she said. 

“If you’re having trouble falling asleep, consider consuming less than 200mgs per day of caffeine, or about one maybe two cups of coffee or one pop.” She recommended all caffeine be consumed by 2 p.m. and no later. 

Another stimulant Walsh said to avoid was nicotine. “We see a lot of younger people vaping, these can keep you up as well,” she said.

 She recommended to titrate down nicotine consumption, if any, prior to going to bed. 

There are factors that may not allow for a restful night’s sleep. “Blue light exposure is a serious issue. I’d recommend you do not sleep with your phone in the room,” said Walsh. 

Walsh also recommended that sleeping seven to eight hours per night is critical for students to function. 

She mentioned that if students who are closer to the age of eighteen, their brains are not wired to start functioning until nine in the morning.  

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