College Sleep Coaches
Original Article | New York Times | November 4, 2018 | Author Delece Smith-Barrow
College students juggle a lot — homework, jobs, social life, internships — but one thing they often drop the ball on is sleep. More than 60 percent of students say they have poor-quality sleep, and 36 percent get fewer than seven hours per night, according to a recent study in Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.
Because you cannot do homework or activities during a REM cycle, some students view getting an appropriate amount of shut-eye as slacking off.
They think, “You must not be involved enough, you must not be studying hard enough, you must not be active enough to have enough time to get that much sleep,” said Janet Lewis Muth, director of health promotion at Carleton College in Minnesota.
This semester, Carleton is trying a new strategy to help students reach the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended target of seven to nine hours each night: sleep coaches.
The coaches are Carleton undergraduates trained to help peers. Any student can sign up, for free. Students fill out a questionnaire; coaches analyze the students’ responses, help them create plans for getting the right amount and quality of slumber, and check in with them every two weeks to track their progress.
To enable students to shift their circadian rhythms, Ms. Muth’s department provides tools, such as light boxes, to help students get drowsy and wake up at the right times. The department also offers ear plugs and sleep masks.
“Sleep is something that’s going to benefit them for the rest of their lives,” Ms. Muth said, “if they can learn how to do it now.”