Dreaming of a Better Night’s Sleep

Psychology Professor’s workshop helps students understand their sleep habits and improve their mental health.
Jack Peltz giving a lecture on a sleep

It’s no secret that college students are notorious for their erratic and dysfunctional sleep schedules. While many have accepted this as a normal part of college life, sleep psychologist and professor of psychology Jack Peltz is determined to help SUNY Brockport students.

With funding and support from the Division of Student Affairs, Peltz created a workshop for students to help address their difficulties sleeping.

“Sleep is intimately tied to mental health. College students’ rates of depression and anxiety have been rising over the past few years, and I think sleep is connected to that,” Peltz said. “I’m here as a clinical psychologist as well as someone who just cares about the health of college students.”

According to Peltz, the average college student is getting less than seven hours of sleep per night, resulting in what he refers to as a “twilight zone” full of negative effects. This can include mood changes, poor school performance, ADHD-like symptoms, and more. Peltz believes this is because their circadian rhythms (or internal clock) never get a chance to regulate.

“What happens in high school and college students is this weekday/weekend discrepancy, or the ‘weekend oversleep,’ creating a jet lag that is really common,” Peltz said.

“Lack of sleep is a well-known epidemic for both high schoolers and college students. It needs to be addressed.”
Jack Peltz

The sleep workshop ran for two sessions. Each session consists of three, one-hour meetings over the course of three weeks. The first meeting is an overview of how sleep works and what it does for our bodies. In the following meetings, Peltz encourages participants to ask about their individual concerns such as anxiety, trauma, social media, and other factors that might inhibit their ability to sleep.

“The idea is to build a little bit of a background so when we talk about sleep or what makes good sleep we’ll have an idea of why something is a problem or why it might be good for sleep,” Peltz said.

Peltz hopes to continue running the workshop in the future so he can help more students get better sleep and bring awareness to a widespread issue.

“Lack of sleep is a well-known epidemic for both high schoolers and college students. It needs to be addressed,” Peltz said.

Four Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Peltz’s tips for getting a good night’s sleep rely heavily on maintaining “good circadian health” through:

  • Waking (and getting) up at the same time most days
  • Getting light exposure first thing in the morning
  • Eating meals at the same time every day
  • Exercising at the same time every day