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.