Sleep deprivation is an epidemic across college campuses and its pernicious effects often go unnoticed, according to Jessica Payne, Nancy O’Neill Collegiate Chair in Psychology.Payne delivered a talk titled “The Neuroscience of Being Your Best Self” in Jordan Hall on Wednesday and focused on the importance of sleep.“I’ve spent years and years working with students and now over 10 years working with corporations and it’s very clear to me, you are truly going to be at your best — and that means best in terms of grades, best in terms of athletic performance, best in terms of creativity — you really need three fundamental cognitive functions in order to do that,” Payne said.According to Payne, these three factors are good sleep, moderate stress and positive emotions. Payne said these cognitive functions are all interrelated and and often declines and deprivations in one will lead to damaging consequences for the other two.“The good news is that for any one of those areas you decide to get better and really improve, you’ll see improvements in the other ones as well,” Payne said.Quantity and quality of sleep are often the most lacking components of optimal brain function for college students, Payne said, because of bad habits like all-night cramming sessions or simply underestimating how much sleep is necessary and healthy. Payne said as much as college students might wish they could somehow live without sleeping at all, sleep remains an integral and essential aspect life for not only humans, but also for animals.“There is no known way to replace or effectively simulate sleep,” Payne said.Therefore, Payne said, it is vital to maximize the effectiveness of sleep and encourage students to take stock of their own sleeping habits and work to improve on them.Payne said the mean amount of sleep needed is approximately eight hours, but follows the a normal or bell curve distribution meaning the amount of sleep needed varies somewhat per person. However, Payne, said the vast majority of people will fall in seven to nine hour range.“Regardless of the specific amount that you … need to be at your best, you really need to go ahead and get that because if you don’t, you might as well be drunk — but you’re going to be having a lot less fun,” Payne said.Often the reason behind people neglecting to get proper sleep, Payne said, is a mistaken belief that sleep is a relatively useless inactive state“Most people think sleep is a dormant state; most people think sleep is a time where the brain is just switched off, [where] it’s powered down like a computer, it’s shut down like a car, it’s resting, maybe it’s rejuvenating but it’s not doing anything,” Payne said.Payne said this widespread fallacy lingers despite contradicting well-established science.“Your brain when you’re asleep is highly active, intensely active,” Payne said.According to Payne, some regions of the brain including the hippocampus, the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex are, in fact, more active during sleep than wakefulness. These regions are associated with memory and learning, making them especially important for college students, Payne said.“We can test for memory in two ways: for specific details and to remember the gist,” Payne said.Payne said studies have shown that both kinds of memory are dramatically impacted by how many hours the subjects of the test had slept.Moving on to the other two factors influencing brain function, Payne said, moderate stress is beneficial for the cognition. This is described by the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which shows an absence of stress results in apathy, boredom and tiredness, while a surplus of stress is debilitating, Payne said. However, college students are much more likely to be over-stressed than suffering from a lack of stress, so they should focus on stress reduction methods such as getting adequate sleep, exercise, social support and relaxation training, which includes yoga and meditation, Payne said. According to Payne, relaxation training and meditation in particular can lead to profound and positive changes in the brain.“When we talk about building neural real estate, I’m not saying you have to go to Tibet and become a monk for 20 years,” Payne said. “I’m saying look at this eight-week experiment where people had no idea what meditation even was and for eight weeks, [then] they meditate for 20 minutes a day and, all of a sudden, at the end of eight weeks, they see all these changes I’m talking about.”Payne said creating a positive emotional state is also vital for college students, and she recommends many of the same methods for reducing stress, but also emphasizes emotion regulation strategies. These techniques range from simply recognizing and labelling emotions to reappraising negative situations and training yourself to present to the moment, Payne said. Tags: neuroscience, sleep, sleep deprivation
MORE: Nani says decision ‘always’ was to play”It was our view that with as many Dallas players that have tested positive, they have to go into quarantine, it would not allow them to train and would put them into a position where they wouldn’t be able to compete in the tournament and do so in a way that would be within our protocol,” commissioner Don Garber told ESPN. “It was a tough decision to make, but one we felt was the right decision for the MLS is Back Tournament.”There will be no shortage of “shut it down” comments as a result of this action. This has been a common reaction, from media members paid to cover sports and fans who’ve long supported sports, to every piece of negative news developing during the attempts by various leagues to return to competition while the COVID-19 pandemic persists in ravaging the United States.One thing to consider, though, that rarely seems to be considered: It likely is safer inside the bubbles these leagues and teams are creating than it is outside.Beyond FC Dallas, only three members of the MLS delegation currently in Orlando have tested positive for the virus. Out of more than 500 players, that’s not even 1 percent. Teams began arriving nearly two weeks ago, which suggests that even as Florida has become highly problematic in regard to the increasing volume of COVID-19 cases, the environment created inside the bubble has not been breached.”I can only speak to my personal experience so far,” Inter Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles said Monday. “It’s now developed or evolved to us walking from our meal room to the treatment rooms to our buses to where we go to practice, the whole time wearing our masks, keeping our distance. I felt relatively safe.”The thing that our team continues to reiterate is that we have to practice – we have to at least honor the protocols — but we have to practice good habits. That means we wear our mask as much as we can. The only time we don’t wear it is in our rooms or when we’re at the meal room eating with the team. Or, of course, on the training field.”I guess the message I would say . . . is that those protocols are there for a reason, and as long as you continue to stress the importance of it and put the responsibility on individuals and those individuals abide by them, I think you increase your chances of creating the safest environment possible.”MORE: Reigning MVP Vela opts out of tournamentAn NWSL source told the Orlando Sentinel the Pride’s positive tests followed a visit to a bar by multiple team members. We do not know how 10 players from FC Dallas came to be infected with the coronavirus as they prepared to compete in the MLS is Back Tournament. No one at the club has chosen to reveal this information, or to hint at what occurred. It is very much possible no one really knows.What is clear, though, is this was too much for FCD to manage and still compete in the monthlong tournament that begins Wednesday in Orlando. As happened a few weeks back with the Orlando Pride and the NWSL Challenge Cup currently being contested in Utah, FC Dallas has been withdrawn from the MLS competition, which will now go on with 25 teams. Six FC Dallas players tested positive upon arriving in Orlando. They might have contracted the virus in transit or before they departed. If they hadn’t been tested in order to gain admittance to the MLS bubble, though, it’s conceivable the original patient might not have become aware of his condition and, perhaps, infected many more persons. At this point, we can’t know.FCD’s games originally had been postponed, in the hope it would be able to field a representative team and begin competing once the healthy players had sufficient time to train. The three group games for each team in the tournament are to count in the regular-season standings, presuming MLS is able to resume competition in home stadiums sometime in the fall, as planned. Dallas will need to have three makeup games scheduled.We can hope that will be a problem MLS must confront in the coming months. If they’re still playing soccer in the autumn, it will mean plenty has gone right: with the impending tournament, and with addressing the continuing pandemic. We all could use some good news.