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A good night’s rest goes a long way

The Healthy Retrievers Kickoff addresses the importance of sleep

Jamie Heathcote

Contributing Writer

At the Healthy Retrievers Kickoff event, the topic of sleep was discussed as part of an initiative to promote overall health and suggest positive health practices for the students, faculty and staff members that make up the community here at UMBC.

No doubt about it, getting some quality shut-eye is a necessity. Unfortunately, students don’t always get the luxury of a satisfying sleep schedule between homework assignments, preparing for presentations and studying for exams. It’s not just students who suffer, though; many people lack a sufficient amount of sleep due to daily activities and responsibilities.

The American College Health Association (ACHA) Healthy Campus 2020 is a resource that provides objectives for improving the overall health of students, faculty and staff members on campuses nationwide. Emphasizing these objectives is where the Healthy Retrievers Initiative derives its focus on how to promote healthy choices to the UMBC population.

At their kickoff event in the University Center Ballroom on Sept. 23, the Healthy Retrievers Initiative hit the ground running with a discussion about how the lack of sleep adversely affects the lives of many people.

Pritma Irizarry, the Health Education Coordinator here on campus, said “The number one thing which negatively affects students is stress. Since stress is a broad topic to discuss, we are starting our campaign off this semester with addressing sleep.” For the future, other topics which alter academic performance and health will be addressed.

In an attempt to reduce the occurrence of students reporting that their work is negatively affected by sleep difficulties, Irizarry said “As a long-term goal, we hope to create a safe space on campus for students to feel free to take a nap in-between classes or before they drive.” This space aims to reduce car accidents caused by one of the main contributing factors — drowsiness.

At the event, Dr. Steve Scharf from the University of Maryland Baltimore Sleep Disorders Clinic spoke about the ways sleep affects mental and physical health. Scharf said, “Sleep deprivation is extremely common in our modern society.” There are many more avenues for distractions, such as the attention we pay to social network technologies in our lives.

Along with such distractions, Scharf delved into the environmental, behavioral and psychological factors which contribute to getting some much needed shut-eye. He provided the audience with helpful sleep hygiene practices, such as treating the bedroom as a dedicated place for sleep, and doing TV watching and web surfing elsewhere.

The Healthy Retrievers Initiative is just another example of how UMBC offers great opportunities through awareness for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.