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The Neuroscience of College Life: Sleep & Stress gives students the scientific basis for creating personal routines for optimal functioning. The primary outcome is a personal sleep-stress routine they can use going forward.

Students enter college and simultaneously experience increased responsibility over creating new personal behavior routines AND adjust to higher expectations for performance and constraints on environments in which they act. The world of neuroscience has information about not only about how their brain works, but also how their environment affects the optimal functioning of their brain and everyday life. They can use this information to inform their adjustment to this new phase of life.

Departure

Sleep:

1. Students find & share images, e.g., the eye, suprachiasmatic nucleus, circadian rhythm  

2. Students create a short video explaining how light => melatonin => circadian rhythm

3. Paired chapter presentations of Walker’s Why We Sleep 

Stress:

1. Students create a video explaining the HPA feedback loop & a perturbation of it, and a return to homeostasis

2. What is anxiety/depression in an animal model? Students present tail suspension, forced swim, Trier social stress test…

3. Paired chapter presentations of Sapolsky’s Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers

Initiation

Students will implement changes in sleep hygiene (e.g., 10pm bedtime club), write reflective responses & share w the class.

Students will encounter problems with roommates, demands for participation in extra curriculars (2am accapella rehearsals!) and social activities, and high academic expectations (shall I pull an all-nighter?) – all of which impinge on their sleep-stress-adjustment. 

Return

Students will have their personally-created sleep-hygiene/stress-management routine/toolbox, knowing how each element is linked to the neuroscience of light exposure, melatonin production and circadian rhythm, and their HPA’s feedback loop, its perturbation, and its return to homeostasis. 

Analog: Joe’s paper bookmark

Digital: personal progressive relaxation script

Combination: tell their world what best practices are (how to set night-time function on iPhone, charge devices away from bed, paper reading 2 hours before bed, sleep in complete darkness…)

Post Script

Joe on speedial