Another spring break is upon us, and it can’t come soon enough. But with term papers and final exams on the horizon, it can be tempting to view spring break as a time for aca­demic catch-up.

But the week away from the daily grind is a chance not just for homework but, more impor­tantly, resting our minds and our bodies. If we’re going back home or trav­eling with family, spring break is an oppor­tunity to invest time in our parents and sib­lings — espe­cially for seniors about to graduate and enter into the “real world” of the work­force. 

If we’re hanging out with friends over break, the same holds true. In just two months, seniors will be leaving campus and the friend­ships they’ve formed here. And for under­classmen, spring break is a chance to deepen new friend­ships.

Beyond strength­ening bonds with family and friends, spring break should also be a time to rest. Even if we’re working on reading or writing (and we will be, that’s for sure), this doesn’t mean we can’t relish in the brief respite from classes and other work. Sleeping is important for spring break — and crucial year-round for avoiding aca­demic burnout.

The American Psy­cho­logical Asso­ci­ation empha­sizes the impor­tance for sleep in things like muscle repair and emo­tional health. It also points out that even a little sleep depri­vation affects our memory and judgment.

“In addition to feelings of list­lessness,” an APA press release says, “chronic sleep depri­vation can con­tribute to health problems, from obesity and high blood pressure to safety risks while driving.”

The release also indi­cates that Amer­icans would be happier and healthier if they slept even an extra 60 to 90 minutes every night.

The National Sleep Foun­dation offers some helpful tips to get better sleep, tips we can apply during breaks and during the rest of the year. It sug­gests avoiding stim­u­lating or stressful activ­ities for at least 30 minutes before bed. Don’t text or do homework, don’t watch TV. The foun­dation says reading a book, stretching, and taking a warm bath, among other things, are some better alter­na­tives.

It might seem like spring break is a mad dash to fit in per­sonal time, homework, travels, and time with family and friends. But if we pace our­selves in the next week away from school, we will be more sat­isfied in our atti­tudes, in our rela­tion­ships, and in our work.