More Sleep May Be The Answer To College Woes, Actions To Prevent Teen Dating Violence In Our State

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A student studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere.
A student studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. stnorbert (CC-BY-NC-ND)

College students have moved back into the neighborhoods and the streets in college towns all over the state. We talk to an expert who says college students need to know that more studying doesn’t always equal better test results if you’re compromising sleep. We also find out what the state of Wisconsin is doing to prevent violence in teen relationships.

Featured in this Show

  • To Do Well In School, Get Some Sleep

    Universities warn students about the dangers of drinking, but often left out of the conversation is the price of not getting enough sleep, says Roxanne Prichard, scientific director of the Center for College Sleep at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    For many teens and young adults they’re walking around in a crisis state of sleep deprivation that’s impacting many, many aspects of their mental health and their performance,” she said.

    Spending the night studying for an exam instead of sleeping is the equivalent of showing up for the exam drunk, studies show. Twenty percent of students report pulling an “all-nighter” at least once a month, according to the Center for College Sleep.

    As researchers are learning more and more about the purpose of sleep for brain health, and how detrimental it is to not get enough good sleep, they are rethinking the practices around 24-hour libraries and late-night due-dates.

    For young adults, sleep quantity is still important, Prichard said. They need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night — sleep that you wake up from naturally, without an alarm, she said.

    “Most people haven’t gotten that since elementary school, frankly,” Prichard said. “So students are kind of walking around numb or accustomed to the effects of sleep deprivation and don’t know what it feels like to get good sleep.”

    Consistency is the other factor, Prichard said.

    “If you’re going to bed at say 2 a.m. on the weekends but 11 p.m. on the weekdays that’s the equivalent of flying to New York to San Francisco every weekend in terms of its jetlag,” she said.

    While it’s easy to think you can catch up on sleep over the weekend, it doesn’t work that way, Prichard said. She estimates you may be able to make up about 40 percent of the sleep you missed. And, you’ll end up throwing off your weekday sleep schedule come Sunday night.

    But universities are not doing enough to accommodate young adults’ need for sleep, she said. Freshmen, for example, often have the worst sleep because they are the last to sign up for classes, which often means the earliest classes are their only option.

    One policy Prichard has identified is the practice of professors making homework due at midnight.

    “Right now if something is due at midnight, that means you start your other homework after that,” she said. “This is just one of the small policy changes that universities could make to help the sleep environment.”

    Meanwhile, young adults also have their role to play in learning to value and prioritize sleep — and by changing their relationship with electronics, Prichard said.

    While you can change the settings of many devices to night mode to diminish the effect they have on melatonin levels, there’s more to it, she said.

    “It could be more like a video game or texting that is engaging people, and part of that is just the excitement, the cognitive arousal … is going to last and make it harder for the brain to wind down and fall asleep,” Prichard said.

  • Want To Do Well In College? Sleep More.

    Forgoing sleep before a test can be as bad as showing up to an exam drunk. So why don’t universities spend as much time teaching students good sleep habits as they do teaching safe drinking habits? This hour, why college students should forgo the 24-hour library in favor of hitting the hay.

  • What Is Being Done In Wisconsin To Prevent Teen Dating Violence?

    One in five teenagers experience dating violence in Wisconsin, according to a statewide campaign that aims to raise awareness about the issue. We talk to the director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin about the challenges people in this age group face, and about prevention and support options.

  • New Statewide Campaign Tackles Teen Dating Violence

    One in five teens experience dating violence in Wisconsin, according to Dare2Know, a new statewide campaign from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin looking to end teen dating violence.

    “We have to think about how do we counter all of that and lead young people to think about what healthy, happy relationships look like,” said Patti Seger, director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

    The campaign, which kicked off in July, challenges teens to think about the kinds of characteristics they value and would like to see in a partnership, she said. Characteristics like kindness, respect, dignity and respecting autonomy to make their own decisions.

    A series of videos, radio, digital and transit ads from the campaign will appear on digital and social media, as well as in shopping malls, movie theaters and buses. Initially, the campaign will run in the Green Bay, La Crosse, metro Milwaukee, Rothschild, Rhinelander, Ashland and Duluth markets.

    Teens are behind the creation of this campaign, Seger said. Seventy teens from the Teen Council, a statewide effort that focuses on the development of teen leaders from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, helped design the campaign. They also focus on programming, public awareness and the annual statewide Teen Summit, where they lead workshops and trainings for other young people.

    Also new from the campaign is the Teen Ambassador Program, for teens who want to lead coalitions on healthy relationships.

    “With the teen ambassador program, we’re hoping to create like a diffuse system of teens across the state who can do engagement in their schools,” she said.

    Participation is key, Seger said.

    “We’re really trying to develop a core group of teens because what we know, teens won’t tell an adult, but they may tell a peer,” she said. “So, we want teen peers to be able to support and educate, be able to identify unhealthy relationships in their friends and have a skill set to be able to intervene.”

    Those in an abusive relationship are often the last ones to recognize it, Seger said. This is because, in part, abusive relationships don’t typically start out that way.

    “They usually start out exactly the opposite,” she said. “Abusive people use really the romance that people expect from our cultural messages as a hook.”

    And media perpetuates those problematic expectations surrounding relationships, she said.

    “Our media culture is just swamping all of us, teens included, with messages about relationships,” Seger said. “Even the subtle messages that somehow seem to romanticize stalking, control, jealousy, obsessive love, you know, really paint a picture of normalcy for all of us.”

    Then, patterns of control and coercion begin to emerge, she said, like telling their partner to cancel plans with friends repeatedly, or moving in together after dating for a very short amount of time.

    “Those things don’t necessarily always raise alarms for people,” Seger said. “But over time, what people who are in abusive relationships talk about is feeling isolated and cut off … they start to lose their perspective and they’re disconnected from resources that may help them.”

    For parents, Seger said to look out for signs like their teen starting to wear different clothes or becoming hyper-vigilant about responding to texts or phone calls from their partner.

    Seger encourages people to frame discussions from the perspective of what a healthy relationship looks like, rather than an abusive relationship — and there isn’t an age that’s too young to start talking with kids about this, she said.

    “You know setting children and then youth up for understanding core characteristics like kindness and truthfulness, integrity, treating others with dignity, those are not threatening concepts at all in my mind and if anything they create positive, healthy children, youth and adults,” Seger said.

Episode Credits

  • Carrie Kaufman Host
  • Colleen Leahy Producer
  • Breann Schossow Producer
  • Roxanne Prichard Guest
  • Birdie Cunningham Guest
  • Patti Seger Guest
  • Michael Dieringer Technical Director