As many try to navigate this new normal the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) wants to call attention to a portion of our daily lives that we may take for granted, a good night’s rest.

According to CSDC, failing to soak in daily ample sleep, which for some can be anywhere from 7 to 9 hours, can jeopardize mental health and overall well-being. Since the outbreak began in the U.S. in March, a number of factors have placed society under constant heightened alert, from financial strain to concern that high risk loved ones could succumb to the virus.

“As a result of all this anxiety and stress it can put us into a hypervigilant mode that can make it very difficult for us to fall asleep and stay asleep,” said CSDC counselor Davis Kane.

Since there is no clear timeframe on when life after the pandemic will begin, Kane wants to help people develop healthier sleep patterns to help them cope in the meantime.

feet under bedsheets

Develop a consistent sleep schedule

  • Determine specific times to wind down, go to bed and to wake up

Put away electronics before bed

  • 1–2 hours before sleeping
  • Devices can throw off your body’s internal clock, delaying sleep

Establish a relaxing routine before sleeping

  • Yoga, meditation, listen to calm music

Be mindful of what you eat and drink

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine later in the day

Reserve bed for sleep

  • Avoid office work or schoolwork in bed

If sleeping difficulties worsen over time it can trigger severe impacts such as panic attacks, frequent nightmares, suicidal thoughts or significant weight loss/gain. CSDC wants everyone to know help is available. In response to the pandemic, CSDC has adjusted services for students and is set up for urgent individual walk-in appointments (with adjustments to accommodate physical distancing), brief solution-focused counseling via tele-mental health, and telephone consultations. CSDC requests that students call to set up an appointment or call before attending a walk-in appointment. Staff will help arrange appropriate services.

Workshops during the fall semester are also available to any interested students currently enrolled at UH Mānoa. A licensed psychologist and CSDC staff member will oversee the workshops and participants can pose questions. Students can register online.

In addition to self-help workshops, CSDC will also offer additional virtual support services for students, such as a series of drop-in Support Spaces in which students will be able to register and virtually “drop in” to a group meeting with a CSDC staff member or peer facilitator at a scheduled time. While not considered counseling or therapy, Support Spaces will be geared toward students looking to connect with peers or process their experiences with others in a safe space.

Faculty and staff can contact the UH Employee Assistance Program for counseling services at Worklife Hawaiʻi.

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