Sleep Week aims to reduce stress and help with sleep

November 1, 2019

As college students, there is nothing we value more than our sleep. Trying to juggle academics, extracurriculars and managing a social life can be super stressful, oftentimes leading to a lack of sleep. 

As part of an initiative with the Health and Wellness Promotion (HAWP) and 14 other groups on campus, the Wellness Programmers, a group within HAWP, is sponsoring the first ever Sleep Week at Brandeis, happening Monday, Nov. 4 through Friday, Nov. 8. The events are open to all students, staff and faculty on campus. 

Leah Berkenwald ’07, the Wellness Promotion Manager for HAWP, told The Brandeis Hoot in an email that Wellness Programmers are a group of staff and student leaders around campus that meet on a monthly basis to “support, organize and implement health and wellness programming at Brandeis.” 

The idea for Sleep Week came out of the success for various stressbusters programs from last year. “It was great to see so many departments and organizations come together to do a week of de-stress programming before finals,” Berkenwald wrote. “Sleep is another important wellness issue for college students and impacts so many different aspects of the student experience.”

“The goal of Sleep Week is to raise awareness about the importance of sleep and its benefits to our well-being and performance,” she wrote. “It’s also to start conversations about environmental and cultural changes we can be making across campus to promote healthier sleep.”

Events are happening throughout the week sponsored by various groups around campus to help students destress. These events include yoga, free food, trivia, mindfulness activities and workshops for members of the Brandeis community to understand why sleep is important.

There will also be a campus-wide Snapchat filter, “Goodnight Brandeis,” that students and staff can use to show their support for the event, and a giant bed in the SCC atrium. A full list of the week’s events can be found on the HAWP website.

Berkenwald explained that getting enough sleep is a huge issue for students, especially college students. “It has direct and significant impacts on physical and mental well-being, as well as academic success,” she wrote. “Sleep is also a huge challenge as the university culture and environment are not exactly sleep-friendly. We need sleep to live, the same way we need air and food, yet it is often the lowest priority on our to-do list.” 

She further explained that over two-thirds of students in the United States face issues with excessive drowsiness and more than a third fall asleep in class at least once a week. Additionally, 20 percent pull “all-nighters” at least once a month and a quarter of college students in the United States describe their sleep problems as “traumatic or difficult to handle,” according to a study performed by the University of St. Thomas. 

Sleep affects mental health as well. “A person with insufficient sleep is nine times more likely to experience depression and 17 times more likely to experience anxiety symptoms,” Berkenwald wrote, citing the earlier study. 

According to national data by the National College Health Assessment, published in the spring of 2019, 12.7 percent of surveyors did not feel like they were getting enough sleep to feel rested in the morning for the past seven days. Almost 20 percent of surveyors also “felt tired, dragged out, or sleepy during the day” for the past six-plus days. 

The culmination of Sleep Week will be a campus-wide pajama day on Friday, Nov. 8.

“HAWP supports student well-being, so folks can make the most of their time at Brandeis,” Berkenwald wrote to The Hoot. “HAWP coordinates campus-wide health and wellness efforts through evidence-based promotion and prevention strategies, such as educational programming and events, health information and resources, and peer education.”

Menu Title