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Just before the current situation began, we were in the final stages of introducing a napping facility on campus. However, this was more than just a place on campus to get a few precious minutes of rest. This was part of a five-pronged strategy to improve the sleep hygiene of the UCL student body. Unfortunately, due to the way the world has to work now, that is not currently possible. But nonetheless, some things still remain - sleep is still important, perhaps more so now than ever, and maintaining a healthy approach to proper rest is paramount. 

As such, we are leveraging all the research and materials we had prepared for our Siesta Spaces and adapting our Sleep Strategy to the current situation. With less of a structure in our lives, we might regress into the sleep patterns of a 15-year-old high school student during the summer holidays – sleeping at 3am and then getting up around noon sometime after falling into the trap of a Netflix binge. Right now, it’s also exam season and that means a lot of us will be facing some added stressors. This isn’t good for our sleep, our mind or our body. That’s why we’ve come up with a sleep campaign at the Union so you can get better sleep and you can be a better you.   

The five prongs of this Sleep Framework are:

  1. Cognizance: ensuring that students are aware of the specific academic benefits of proper sleep and napping, especially in areas of improved cognition, memory and information retention. 

  2. Duration: The generally recommended duration of sleep for students (considering age, work patterns, and social environment) is seven to nine hours per night. This is an important characteristic but one that is not always easy to adhere to. In addition, this does not provide a complete picture of a person’s sleep, with the quality of sleep being an important additional factor to the quantity.

  3. Sleep quality: The Sleep Framework will also advise on best practice for getting good-quality sleep, touching on areas such as sleep environment, consistency, wind-down duration, and subjective satisfaction. Good sleep quality is as important as sleep duration.

  4. Destigmatization: Students may have a combative attitude with sleep, deeming it something ‘for the weak’, that ought to be fought through, and indicative of laziness. There is a strong stigma attached to sleep (both nightly rest and the often necessary daytime nap) which needs to be broken.

  5. Mindfulness: It is important that students are more aware of their own personal sleep patterns, needs, and preferred conditions. This could be through a generally more mindful approach to sleep, or the use of specific technology (for instance, Sleepio, which is developed by UCL itself ).

Over the next couple of weeks, in line with the Sleep Strategy, we will be disseminating advice about how best to maintain sleep hygiene specifically considering the current situation we are in right now, and how doing so can be extremely beneficial academically and psychologically.

Sleep is so important. It helps us function during the day, it helps boost our energy, improves our mood and helps us feel more confident and less like the world is getting to us. We all know it’s important so that we get to sleep at a good time and that we get a good night’s rest. 

The first thing we’re doing is promoting Sleepio because it’s good and it works. Bought together by a team of world-leading experts in sleep, including Professors and Doctors from UCL and the NHS, Sleepio helps you improve your sleep by focusing on your lifestyle, your thoughts, and your schedule. You’ll get set a programme to follow and will also get help from a virtual professor, and it’s all free to use.  

So go get some rest! Rock-a-bye babies! 🤘 🤘 

Your Postgraduate Students’ Officer and Sleep Advocate,
Jim Onyemenam

Where Snore Happens