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Parent-to-Parent Advice for the College TransitionCollegiateParent
Sleep is the foundation of wellness yet almost 40% of us struggle to get enough — and that percentage is surely higher on college campuses. Without sufficient sleep, your student will find it harder to learn, and to remember what they learned, and will lack the energy to make the most of their college experience.
Here’s what you need to know to mentor your student in healthier sleep habits.
Our bodies are super busy while we slumber. During sleep we fix damaged tissue, toxins are processed and eliminated, hormones essential for growth and appetite control are released and restocked, and energy is restored. When sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of this work.
The health risks of sleep deprivation include:
Quality sleep starts the moment we wake up. The choices we make about what to eat, how much to exercise, and how to handle stress all impact our ability to get a great night’s sleep. On the subject of stress...
Parents understand that the college experience isn’t only about earning a degree but also about learning how to manage life. This includes learning to manage stress and regulate emotions.
When the mind perceives normal adjustments to college as threats, the human stress response is activated. This response is an amazing mechanism for safety and survival. The confusing part is our brains can’t decipher levels of threats. Feeling overwhelmed with college registers in the brain the same as jumping out of the way of an oncoming car.
Some amounts of college stress are necessary to study productively, maintain motivation and accomplish tasks, but the negative effects of stress (anxiety, exhaustion and hopelessness) can disrupt daily living and thriving.
Students can learn to manage the pressures of college so the demands don’t seem as unbearable and the stress response is deactivated. In addition to good sleep habits (explored above), here are six tried-and-true strategies.
Write it out, draw it, color it, mind map it, keep it visible. Include:
Reduce or eliminate sugar drinks, caffeine and alcohol — Gatorade, energy drinks, teas (the kind with added sugar) and sodas included.
Foods rich in vitamins B and C, iron and magnesium (oranges, broccoli, avocados, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, berries, grass-fed beef, salmon and sunflower seeds) are helpful in reducing the effects of stress and strengthening the nervous system.
Practice “4-7-8” deep breathing daily (watch the YouTube video), and try “square breathing,” too. Use breathing apps. It only takes ten minutes to engage your diaphragm and activate the calm part of your nervous system.
“I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to go to college. In four years, I’ll have grown exponentially and will contribute to society in ways I never imagined.”
“I’m right where I need to be! With this comes tough times. I am tough enough — I will be just fine.”