Since late August, two students and one staff member have come to the health center complaining specifically of sleep problems. So I went to our health information resource file which contains internet resources on a variety of topics. Sure enough, there was a file on Sleep Disorders, with copies of some useful handouts on the subject!
Checking out the web sites, I have concluded that the "hub of the wheel"
sleep disorder information on the internet is the
SleepNet web site at http://www.sleepnet.com
It has been named "Best of the Web." This very comprehensive web site contains "Everything you wanted to know about sleep disorders but were too tired to ask!" There is access to a plethora of information on insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, ...and on and on. Included are more than 100 links to other sleep-related sites, and "The Sandman's Sleep Link Reviews" of those sites are also featured. There are 18 links to professional organizations dealing with sleep problems. Also included are Sleep Forums, a Snooze Paper, and Research Links.
The SleepNet web site is copyrighted. Remember that copyright laws do permit you to print a copy of the information for personal use. The source and copyright symbol must appear on the copy. To print multiple copies, simply obtain permission of the author. This is not difficult, since most web sites have a "mail to" link to the author or webmaster.
A comprehensive web site like SleepNet is analogous to a Wegman's supermarket or a Sam's Club! It's BIG...VERY BIG. Although I'm glad we have Wegman's (they do carry a nice line of Thai foods and spices), I usually prefer shopping at a Shurfine or Quality Market, which is smaller, but I know exactly where to find what I need in a hurry, it doesn't require as much shopping time, and the traffic there usually isn't quite as busy. But it is a treat to go to Wegman's or Sam's Club now and then!
Actually, one of my favorite resources on sleep disorders for college health came from an interesting place: The Pacific Coast Feather Company, founded in Seattle in 1884! Their "Healthy Sleep" web site at http://pacificcoast.com/pcf/healthy/healthy.html contains a wealth of information on getting a good night's sleep, includes healthy and practical tips for healthy sleep, resource organizations, a quiz to help you rate the state of your sleep, and information on sleep for seniors. This web site is the "Quality Market" where I enjoy shopping!
I particularly like their link to information on these Ten Healthy Sleep Habits:
On the web page, each of the above categories contains two or three paragraphs of helpful information. Ten Healthy Sleep Habits prints out into a three-page handout which I have given to students in need of the information. I have also used the handout information as a guide in doing the assessment and the plan of care of the student's problem. Asking about sleep habits, exercise, use of stimulants, etc. can help provide important information in determining which behaviors may be in need of modification in order to improve sleep. Giving the student the printed information involves them in the process of their care.
The Healthy Sleep web site also contains links to information on the following 11 sleep problems:
This helpful web site also contains six links to the following Sleep Disorder Centers:
Another link about Sleepy Seniors includes the following information categories: Myths About Sleep, Sick and Tired, Seniors Suffer From Myths, and Sleep Tips for Older Adults.
The Sleep Environment segment includes the following:
I enjoy finding a website which provides practical information which can be shared with students. The Pacific Coast Feather Company's Healthy Sleep web site is not copyrighted so "free use" applies. Nevertheless, be sure the internet address prints out at the top margin of any information pages you print for students. That way you are giving credit to the source and the student can go the web site themselves and read the information online if they wish. They might like the pillows and bedding as well!
Additional internet resources for sleep problems include:
University's SleepWell at
This site contains "A well full of information on sleep, sleep disorders, sleep activism, sleep-related events and much more!"
University of Alberta Health Center's Health Information page: "How to Get
to Sleep" located
This link contains 9 practical tips adapted from The Joy of Stress by Peter Hanson.
Sleep Disorders written by Gerald S. Snyder, on contract with the National Institure of Mental Health, 1987. This paper includes information with a more scientific focus. Included is information on insomnia, snoring, narcolepsy, narcolepsy with cataplexy, night terrors vs. nightmares, bedwetting, sleepwalking, and sleeping pills.
What to Do When You Can't Sleep is a practical patient handout by the American Academy of Family Physicians, with usefulness to college health practice.
I encourage you to visit these web sites and evaluate them for yourself, then share the information with students who come to you for help with a sleep problem.
One of the students who came to me complaining of sleep disturbance problems came back for follow up. I had given her some of the wonderful handout sheets, includingTen Tips to Healthy Sleep. I asked her to read the information, identify which items might be pertinent to her, and then come back to discuss them with me. When she returned almost a week later, she said the info sheets didn't really help her very much, but she reported that her sleep was back to normal! A friend of hers recommended that she take Tylenol PM (contains acetaminophen 500 mg. and diphenhydramine HCl 25mg) at bedtime. She did this for 3 nights in a row and her sleep was back to normal.
This experience reminded me that sometimes an over-the-counter medication such as Benadryl can help resolve sleep problems. (Remember when it was used in hospitals as a sleeping pill for geriatric patients?) Not every student with a sleep problem needs a medical referral, a prescription, or a psychological counseling referral. Often in the past I have advised Benadryl 25 mg. HS for students with trouble sleeping. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. But a low-risk, over-the-counter approach is usually worth a try.
After 25 years in college health, I continue to learn from our students. The next time I have a student with a sleeping problem, I just might recommend "Tylenol PM for three nights in a row" as a first-line approach! Somehow, having "Tylenol" in the name makes it "user-friendly." And I will give the student the sleep information handouts as well.
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