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Lucubrate Magazine, February 24th, 2023

Mental health issues are becoming more and more prevalent for university students. With the increasing academic pressure, university culture, and systems that can be hard to navigate, it is no surprise that students’ mental well-being is increasingly becoming a priority for universities.

Universities are now taking proactive steps to ensure their students’ mental health.

A student does Yogi reading (Photo. Adobe Stock)

These to ensure the students’ mental health include providing resources such as counselling services, support groups, and mental health awareness campaigns to help students cope with the pressures of studying.

By recognizing the importance of mental well-being for their students, universities can create an environment where everyone feels supported and encouraged to reach their full potential.

Increasing Academic Pressure and Well-being

With the increasing academic pressure, students face a lot of mental and physical stress. It is essential to understand the impact of this pressure on different demographic groups to promote student well-being.

We must take a holistic approach to address this issue as it affects all age groups. We must consider how factors such as economic background, family dynamics, and cultural differences can influence students’ experience with academic pressure. Only then can we develop practical solutions that will help reduce the harmful effects of this pressure on students’ well-being.

There are increasing calls for universities to take a compassionate, holistic approach to supporting student well-being. Universities identify the barriers in the university cultures, systems, pedagogies, curricula, tuition and assessment practices. [1]

Sleep and Physical Activity for Students’ Well-being

The stress-buffering hypothesis postulates that physical activity and exercise can buffer the adverse effects of (academic) stress on health. [2]

Sleep and physical activity are two critical components of a healthy lifestyle that can positively affect a student’s well-being and academic performance. Physical activity improves sleep quality, reduces stress and anxiety, increases energy levels, and promotes overall mental health. Additionally, regular physical activity can help students maintain a healthy weight which is essential for their overall well-being.

Studies conclude that different factors can interfere with the quantity and quality of sleep, the number of hours of sleep, the practice of physical activity and students’ mental health. The same study suggests that we should conduct more studies to see how school stress relates to the low quality of sleep and the students’ physical activity. [3]

Compared to sedentary behaviour, sleep or light-intensity physical activity, more time spent in moderate to vigorous physical exercise was associated with a lower risk of depression. When modelling reallocation of time (e.g. replacing time in one behaviour with another), replacing sleep, sedentary behaviour or light-intensity physical activity with moderate to vigorous physical activity time was strongly associated with lower depression risk. Reallocating time between sedentary behaviour, sleep, or light-intensity physical activity has minimal to no effect.[4] 

On the other hand, we link poor sleep quality to decreased academic performance due to a lack of concentration and slower cognitive processing. Therefore, students must get enough sleep to maximize their academic potential.

Exercise helps us to relax and unwind and can even help reduce stress levels which can interfere with our ability to get a good night’s rest. By ensuring we get enough physical activity during the day, we can get the best quality of sleep possible to maximize our academic potential.

The results of a study suggest a positive effect of physical activity on sleep quality and well-being and affect on academic stress periods. This effect, however, depends on the total amount of activity made within the stress period. Moderate-intensity activity of 150 minutes/week is enough to profit from the stress-buffering and health-promoting effects. Therefore, it should be students’ goal to maintain their physical activity levels (or even to start exercising) in times of high (academic) stress. [2]

Adequate Sleep and Physical Activity

In conclusion, getting adequate sleep and physical activity is essential for students’ well-being as it can positively affect their mental health, physical health, and academic performance.

References

[1] Lister, K., Andrews, K., Buxton, J., Douce, C., & Seale, J. (2023). Assessment, life circumstances, curriculum and skills: Barriers and enablers to student mental well-being in distance learning. Frontiers in Psychology14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1076985

[2] Wunsch, Kathrin, Kasten, Nadine, Fuchs, Reinhard, The effect of physical activity on sleep quality, well-being, and affect in academic stress periods. Dove Medical Press, 2017/12/31

[3] Deborah Ferreira Moraes Guimarães, Antonio Coppi Navarro, Physical activity, sleep quality and mental health in schools: systematic review, v. 17 no. 107 (2023), v. 17 no. 107 (2023)  http://www.rbpfex.com.br/index.php/rbpfex/article/view/2655

[4] Blodgett, J., Mitchell, J., Stamatakis, E., Chastin, S., & Hamer, M. (2023). Associations between the composition of daily time spent in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep and risk of depression: Compositional data analyses of the 1970 British cohort Study. Journal of Affective Disorders320, 616-620. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2022.09.110


Lucubrate Magazine February 2023

The photo on the top of the article: Adobe Stock


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Karl Skaar
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He is a highly successful professional with a high degree of entrepreneurial flair.

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