Looking at sleep hygiene

Taylor Rocca, Roving Editor  Ω

Let’s just face it: university students typically aren’t the poster boys or girls for respectable sleep hygiene.

We drink mass amounts of coffee, energy drinks and ingest numerous other stimulants in order to battle our way through heavy workloads, tiring employment and over-indulgent partying.

At the time, it probably seems worthwhile to most students. But in the long run, does it benefit us at all, or are we doing more harm than good?

I was initially triggered to think about this when I stumbled across an article sent to me from a classmate that was originally published on Feb. 22 on the BBC website. Stephanie Haggerty of BBC World Service described the change in human sleep patterns from the 16th century to today.

Oddly enough in the sixteenth century, most people slept for a total of eight hours per day — but for no more than four hours at a time. This meant that there were two sleep periods during a day. In between, most people got up and did chores, visited neighbours and bustled around town.

I’m lucky to get four hours of sleep in one night. Forget four hours of sleep twice in a day.

“There’s little evidence that lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation as it’s known, causes any immediate psychological damage to the body,” said Dr. Jeni Worden of BBC Health in a linking artcle contained within the article that piqued my interest in the subject.

“But it certainly affects how you feel and how your brain works and it can interfere with work and home life.”

Thankfully, there is an opportunity for students educate themselves on healthy sleep hygiene this week.

The Multidisciplinary Sleep Science Conference will be held from Mar. 9 to 11 at TRU in the Campus Activity Centre.

Students can attend the conference by registering on site. The cost for on-site registration for the duration of the conference is $200 for students.

This is the third-annual edition of the conference that is geared towards medical professionals and students studying or interested in sleep disorders.

Les Matthews, associate professor of respiratory therapy, is organizing the event, as he has done for the past two years.

Stephanie Montalban is a respiratory therapy student at TRU and she is volunteering to help put on the conference.

“Sleep is [Matthews’] baby,” Montalban said.

This year’s conference features a discussion on children with sleep problems with Dr. Osman Ipsiroglu and Dr. Manisha Whitmans. This talk will be free for all to attend and it takes place at 7 p.m. on Mar. 9 in the TRU Campus Activity Centre. Conference registration is not required.

Following the discussion with Dr. Ipsiroglu and Dr. Whitmans, Heroes will be host to a social event for conference guests to mingle.

Other talks throughout the conference include sleep in primary health care and sleep medicine.

Practitioners and medical professionals from across western Canada are expected in attendance at the conference, which has seen significant growth since its creation.

Last year, approximately 180 people registered and attended, according to Matthews.

Montalban believes that Matthews envisions the Multidisciplinary Sleep Science Conference growing into an international event attended by professionals from around the globe.

With exam season fast approaching and class projects coming due, it might be a wise choice for students to attend the free Friday session at the Multidisciplinary Sleep Science Conference rather than overindulge in adult beverages.