We just finished fall break, and hopefully students were able to get a break—physically, emotionally, or both—if even for just a little while. An academic semester and all that comes with it can be an intense time for students. Utilizing with intention the built-in break points during a semester can better help students to achieve optimal personal well-being. It is a challenge, but one that is doable.
During breaks students often try to “catch up” on sleep. Of course, sleep is not a bankable commodity. Nonetheless, getting additional sleep during a break period can help a student to stabilize a sleep deficit. Good sleep patterns are essential to well-being, and students often feel the pull of needing to stay up to complete the work they have due. It is an oft-misunderstood aspect of college life that in many cases these late nights are not only avoidable but also unnecessary.
Students likely have gaps in their academic and personal schedules during the week that they could use more effectively to complete required academic work and other responsibilities. Students who can employ discipline during their daily schedules can make best use of these schedule gaps to create the space where they can get to sleep earlier or at the very least break a pattern of multiple poor-sleep nights. Saying no to unessential or otherwise unnecessary things can also help.
The lack of sleep contributes to mental health challenges and general poorer health. Research supports the importance of developing strong sleep habits, and as we look ahead to the second half of the fall semester, students could do well for themselves by making goals related to their sleep habits. Whether your son or daughter is a first-year student still getting used to the pulse and rhythm of academic life or a senior who is in the early stages of determining their next steps, the development of effective sleep practices will serve them well while they are here but also as they look to contribute to the world after they graduate. If a student needs help in addressing their sleep habits, our wellness program would be a good resource for them. Ariana Huffington’s recent book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time, may be a worthwhile addition to a reading list.
Take a break
Give me a break
Break a leg
These are all breaks. . . .
But here’s a break that students can learn to appreciate—Nap Break!