College and Sleep habits” 2nd blog in a special series on sleep.
Last month Dr. Grigorian shared with our readers’ techniques to use with youngsters and bedtime stories. This month she offer insight to understanding sleep habits at college
Nyiri has been in private practice for twenty-five years treating children, adolescents, and adults, as well as families and couples. Dr. Grigorian not only specializes in anxiety and depression, but has treated couples in Parent Guidance for decades. She supervises a wide range of therapists professionally who are in the mental health field. Dr. Grigorian has lectured and conducted workshops on a wide range of topics, including sibling therapy, early intervention in childhood development, and prevention in mental health. She has also served as a consultant to many school districts and non-profit organizations identifying high-risk children and families. She has contributed to the body of research on treating siblings together as an alternative to traditional individual treatment. She has been part of long-term research group studying trauma.
You just dropped your kid at college and are awake worrying if they will ever sleep again.
The college student faces many challenges when it comes to sleep. The first few months are the hardest adjustment.
The nocturnal environment of college life is not just stimulating; it’s also about not being isolated.
Distraction and noise are only the simple problems.
Sleeping in a room with a roommate/possible stranger presents an emotional as well as physical challenge.
The initial snap judgments made in the beginning of a roommate relationship take time to season.
But, your kid may not know this and will lose sleep over worrying about the stranger beside them. Balancing a schedule with this stranger is difficult at best.
Negotiating a shared bathroom or dormitory hallway bathroom will disrupt sleep with worry and confusion. Some kids plan this and will rise early to shower; some go in late at night for privacy, and some suffer over urinating in the middle of the night.
There is a phenomenon that has been coined, “FOMO,” which means fear of missing out. Students are so afraid of missing opportunities to meet and greet friends and be part of what they believe is important to construct a social life. Like toddlers, they do not want to sleep and miss out on the fun.FOMO is especially prevalent amongst freshmen college students. This alone will change the sleep life of every college kid.
Erratic sleep schedules are created by class schedules as well as day-to-day changes of where and when to be at school.For example, if Wednesday and Friday contain a class that is held only in the afternoon, sleeping in might work for that morning but not for the others.
Sleep deprivation amongst college kids is an actual human experiment. Like sex and drugs, it is a time in life to push the limits of cognitive and emotional health standards and to learn self-regulation.
What can you do as a parent?
Well, try to remember that they are away at school for a reason. Perhaps in this instance, unless you receive an SOS or other smoke signal from the university’s powers that be, rest assured, your kid will figure out his/her new circumstances. Besides, you know they will not listen to your advice. What they need most now is the chance, just like a baby, to soothe himself or herself under duress and most importantly, as an autonomous person.
As a relationship specialist for the Bedtime Network (www.bedtimenetwork.com) Nyiri contributes weekly stories providing advice on a variety of sleep topics. Pedimedica found the following published article to be beneficial to their readers and wanted to share her perspective on dealing with the difficulties of getting their youngsters to bed!