Students launch Nap Map, educate on sleep health

by: Camille Wick – Staff Writer – clwick@unca.edu

UNC Asheville students and faculty gathered data and composed a sleep initiative seeking to educate the community about the importance of sleep and the relationship between restfulness and grades.

The You Always Wanna Nap Sleep Initiative held two table events this past week to spread information about sleep hygiene, the Stress and Biofeedback Lab and the Nap Map, said Aimee Wolf, the Y.A.W.N. Sleep Initiative team leader and health and wellness promotion student.

“We began working on the initiative to inform students about healthy sleeping so that they could see how their grades could benefit by making sure they get the sleep they need,” Wolf said.

The Y.A.W.N. Sleep Initiative hopes to educate students on healthy sleep habits, like napping, as demonstrated by sophomore Jacob Thorne. Illustration by Emily Foley.

Constance Schrader, a health and wellness lecturer, began collecting data a few years ago regarding healthy sleep habits, and this semester she and four students created the Y.A.W.N. Sleep Initiative.

“I would be really pleased to discover that, as a result of our campaign, students felt empowered to take better care of themselves and were encouraged to take better care of their friends,” Schrader said.

Estimates of sleep deprivation among college students range from 30 to 40 percent, Schrader said.

“Good sleep is important for a healthy life,” said Jennifer Willis, a Y.A.W.N. Sleep Initiative team member and sophomore health and wellness promotion student. “I hope people will not only understand that good sleep is essential to better health, but also some of the ways they can put better sleep habits into practice.”

The UNCA Nap Map, designed by the sleep initiative team, visually displays different places on campus where students can take naps.

“We also want people to understand that napping is healthy too, so we created a campus Nap Map on Google to inform students of some nice places to go and relax and take a short nap in between classes if you’ve got 20 minutes to do so,” Wolf said.

Schrader got the idea to make a Nap Map from the University of California at Davis, and she applied it to the UNCA campus, she said.

“I am really proud of our Nap Map,” Schrader said. “It’s a really cool idea, and I hope we get a good response.”

Willis learned about sleep-related technology through her research.

“I found out about a neat machine called the Zeo Machine,” Willis said. “This device helps people track their sleep patterns. I was able to use it. It is quite simple.”

UNCA’s Stress and Biofeedback Lab offers free services to students, faculty and staff. Some of their sessions include breath training and EKG training.

“I would encourage anyone who has questions about their own sleep habits to visit the Biofeedback Lab,” Willis said. “I found out a few things about my own sleep patterns that I had suspected over the years, but it was interesting to have the recorded data.”

Representatives of the sleep initiative will be at the Celebration Event on Dec. 3 in the Sherrill Center to talk to people about healthy sleep habits, healthy napping techniques, the UNCA Nap Map and the Stress and Biofeedback Lab, Wolf said.

The Celebration Event will showcase the research projects of students taking the Introduction to Health and Wellness class this semester.

“We hope that students and teachers will learn that sleep is an important part of our daily lives, and that energy drinks cannot make up for the benefits we receive from going to sleep or taking a short nap during the day,” Wolf said.

One of the activities at the Y.A.W.N. table events last week was a sleep pillow project in which people could make their own sleep pillows to cover their eyes when they are asleep.

“The pillows are a small pouch filled with flax seed, and then students could put in some lavender or rose hips or rosemary to create their own pillows,” Wolf said. “Rose hip, lavender and rosemary are relaxing scents used in aromatherapy.”

Wolf said she has a different perspective on sleep now that she has participated in the Y.A.W.N. Sleep Initiative.

“I used to underestimate the value of sleep,” Wolf said. “I used to think sleep was just a routine, but I’ve learned that my body goes through a lot of different processes.”

Some of the processes and functions related to sleep include heart rate, hormones, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, muscles and tissues, energy level and memory, Wolf said.

“Our student performance suffers tremendously from sleep deprivation,” Schrader said. “There is a perverted heroism attributed to being sleep deprived.”

Schrader said she has plans to continue the Y.A.W.N. Sleep Initiative after this semester.

“I hope next semester I can work with another group of students to analyze the best practices for moving people towards better sleep hygiene and expand our outreach,” Schrader said.

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