A full nights rest can help your students deal with anxiety

Purple.com recently  published a guide on the relationship between anxiety, mental health, and quality of sleep.

Sleep quality and mental illness can greatly impact each other. They created the guide to educate people on how to achieve a good night’s sleep while living with an anxiety disorder.  The guide covers how anxiety and sleep are interrelated. The guide offers practical advice on:

•Common sleep disorders that may be increasing your students stress levels

•How anxiety disorders such as general anxiety, OCD, PTSD, social anxiety and panic attacks affect your students brain

•How mental illness and anxiety impacts the sleep patterns of different age groups, including children and young adults

•Tips for improving sleep while living with mental illness

•The guide covers a section for High School/College age students:

The college years mark a time when we’re the most anxious and most sleep deprived. All-night cram sessions, midnight social gatherings, and 8:30 a.m. classes take their toll on the health and mental well-being of college-aged students. Sleep studies of college-aged students show up to 60 percent suffer from poor sleep quality, while almost 8 percent have insomnia disorder.

Sleep studies of college-aged students show up to 60 percent suffer from poor sleep quality

Poor sleep quality affects grades too. One study of student sleep patterns showed those who got more than 9 hours sleep tend to have higher average GPAs (3.24) than those who got less than 6 hours sleep (2.74). Just getting 10 or 15 minutes less sleep every night can add up quickly over four years—making a significant dent in overall academic performance.

College students show high rates of anxiety disorders. In fact, anxiety for college students has surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis—affecting about 1 in 5 students.

Navigating new surroundings, strange faces, and responsibilities during college are a necessary part of becoming an adult, but the transition comes with a healthy dose of anxiety. Much of that worry comes from performing well on exams.

Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is something most college students bring with them from primary and secondary school. But in college, the stakes are even higher for students who’ve taken on the responsibility for policing their own grades.

Test anxiety is particularly pernicious because it affects a large portion of students (around 17 percent) and is a common way for students to slip into bad sleeping habits.

Students with test anxiety are more susceptible to bad sleep hygiene from staying up late to cram for tests. And the general anxiety they feel weighs on their ability to fall asleep.

Test anxiety and fear of failure often set off a series of what-if hypotheticals. “What if I don’t pass this test? I’ll flunk this class. What if I flunk this class? I won’t graduate. What if …”. Students can lower their stress by following some common guidelines to overcome test anxiety, which include getting enough sleep.

Sleep Disorders

College students suffer from sleep disorders at about the same rate as older adults. It’s a statistic at odds with society’s view that a group of young, healthy people are vulnerable to “older” maladies. But sleep disorders like delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) and sleep apnea affect up to 27 percent of students.

College students suffer from sleep disorders at about the same rate as older adults.

College students may be more likely to develop DSPS given their penchant for late-night study sessions and other activities. They’re awake more during the night time and may nap to “catch up” during the day.

Over time, their internal clocks (circadian rhythms) begin to slip out of sync with the regular day-and-night cycle. What results is a type of “academic jet lag” that can last for semesters and cause long-lasting physical and mental harm.

Getting Better Sleep in College

Here are some tips for changing your daily college routine to improve your quality of sleep and lower your anxiety levels.

•Get out of your head. If you can’t fall asleep because you can’t turn off your thoughts, get out of bed and do something “mindless”. Go for a walk. Do push-ups. Doodle on paper. Try yoga. Turn your focus to your body and not your mind.

•Get into the sunlight. Your circadian rhythm is sensitive to light and darkness. Get a good dose of sunlight every day. Walk around campus. Eat lunch on the lawn.

•Don’t “catch up” on weekends. Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Don’t sleep in more than an hour on weekends.

•Save your bed for sleeping. Don’t do anything else in bed but sleep. Watch TV and do homework somewhere else. Train your brain and body to expect sleep when you lay down. And don’t make a habit of sleeping anywhere else besides your bed (e.g. couch, recliners).

•Don’t drink alcohol before bed. You may think alcohol helps you sleep, but it actually disrupts your sleep cycle throughout the night. Avoid alcohol at least 4 hours before bed.

Here is a link to the entire guide: https://purple.com/blog/sleep-guide-for-anxiety