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The University of Arkansas Rich Mountain values the importance of student mental health and well-being. Mental health is equally as important as physical health and a key influence on student academic success. Mental health is vital to cope with daily challenges, recognize your personal strengths, and learn most effectively.

Sleep and mental health share a close relationship. Poor sleep can negatively impact mental health, and mental health struggles can cause disturbances with sleep. Inadequate sleep in college students can often lead to poor academic performance, irritability, brain fog, and depression (Buboltz et al., 2021). The CDC recommends that adults 18 and over should aim to sleep 7 or more hours per night Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). If you are experiencing difficulties with sleep, you are not alone. In studies of college students, 60% reported poor quality of sleep (Lund et al., 2010) and 73% of college students deal with at least one form of sleep problem (Buboltz et al., 2021).

If you are struggling with sleep, here are a few evidence-based methods to help you out:

  • Sleep Friendly Environment: Creating a designated space for sleep can help to improve sleep quality. To do this, reduce the temperature in your room, reduce sounds such as a tv or loud music playing, and make your room as dark as possible. Try to use your bed only for sleep (Enam et al., 2023). It can sometimes be more comfortable to study or sit in your bed to watch tv, but doing these activities in bed may cause your brain to associate being in bed with these tasks and increase difficulty falling or staying asleep. Using sleep aids such as weighted blankets, eye masks, and white noise machines can also assist in sleep quality (Ho & Siu, 2018).

  • Sleep Routine: For optimal sleep, it is important to create a habit. This includes waking up and going to bed at the same time each day including weekends. Try to avoid eating meals and snacks after 8:00 pm (Enam et al., 2023). Incorporate relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine. This may include taking a warm bath, yoga, reading a book, listening to calming music, meditation, or brain dumping (The Ottawa Hospital, 2015). Brain dumping is a free writing type of activity to unload your brain of anxiety, stress, emotions, and worries about the future. Try to reduce the amount of time you spend using digital devices before bed. Aim to turn off your devices 30-45 minutes prior to bedtime (The Ottawa Hospital, 2015).

  • Daily Routine: There are several areas you can prioritize throughout the day to improve your sleep habits. Limit caffeine consumption later in the day. Caffeine is not only in soda, tea, and coffee but also in foods such as chocolate. Take naps earlier in the day instead of later in the evening. Try to nap for no more than 45 minutes. Keep a sleep journal. Exploring current sleep habits can help you to discover areas of needed improvement (The Ottawa Hospital, 2015).

  • Physical Activity: Exercising has multiple health benefits including improving the quality of sleep. Participating in exercise 2 or more days per week can help to reduce insomnia and make winding down at the end of the day easier (Mbous et al., 2022). Research suggests that even light exercise, such as walking, improves sleep quality in young adults (Wang & Boros, 2021).

Additional Sleep Resources


Buboltz, W. C., Brown, F., & Soper, B. (2001). Sleep habits and patterns of college students: A preliminary study. Journal of American College Health, 50(3), 131-135.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September). How much sleep do I need?

Enam, N., Pacuku, K., & Grampurohit, N. (2023). Occupational therapy and sleep management: Advantages of telehealth services during COVID-19. SIS Quarterly Practice Connections.

Ho, E. & Siu, A. (2018). Occupational therapy practice in sleep management: A review of conceptual models and research evidence. Occupational Therapy International, 2018, 8637498.

Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Prichard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(2), 124-132.

Mbous, Y., Nili, M., Mohamed, R., & Dwibedi, N. (2022). Psychosocial correlates of insomnia among college students. Preventing Chronic Disease, 19, 220060.,sleep%20per%20night%20(2).

The Ottawa Hospital. (2015, March). Occupational therapy guide to better sleep.,day%2C%20even%20on%20the%20weekends.&text=Turn%20down%20lights%20during%20the,ready%20for%20rest%20and%20sleep.&text=Take%20a%20warm%20bath%20at%20bedtime.

Wang, F., & Boros, S. (2021). The effect of daily walking exercise on sleep quality in healthy young adults. Sport Sciences for Health, 17, 393-401.

Time management is a concept that involves planning out time spent during the day on needed activities in order to improve productivity and academic success (Akinfolarin, 2017; Razali et al., 2018). Research shows that implementing time management strategies can improve mental health of college students by reducing stress, increasing sleep quality, and improving anxiety and depression symptoms (Wang & Wang, 2018). Learning time management skills has also been shown to improve ability to manage emotions and satisfaction with one’s daily activities (Holmefur et al., 2019). Adding time management skills into your routine as a college student now can also improve your future productivity and job performance once you enter the workforce (Aeon & Faber, 2021).

Below are some tips and resources for improving time management:

  • Make A Schedule: Making a schedule can be accomplished by using a planner or calendar. Important things to place on this schedule include assignment due date, exam dates, appointments, and events in your personal life. You can also use a schedule to break up large tasks and set smaller due dates for yourself before a deadline to ensure completion and eliminate procrastination (Student Mental Health Network, n.d.).

  • Use To-Do Lists: Making to-do lists is a great method to make sure you do not forget to complete needed tasks. It can be satisfying or motivating to check off items on your to-do list as you accomplish them throughout the day. Many formats for to-do lists exist including dividing lists up daily or weekly or utilizing paper versus digital methods. Benefits of digital to-do lists include that they are easier to keep up with and can easily be edited. To organize tasks and make them more manageable, it is helpful to separate out to-do lists based on personal and student life. It is also important to limit the number of tasks on your daily list to a number of items that are realistically accomplishable for that day (Schrager, 2022).

  • Prioritize Important Tasks: When creating your to-do list or making a schedule, it is critical that you prioritize important tasks. Understanding what needs the most time or attention is key to being successful in college and a more efficient student (Student Mental Health Network, n.d.). A helpful hint when prioritizing tasks is to give more time to tasks which have the closest deadline and require the most time spent to complete them.

  • Give Yourself Breaks and Rest Time: No one is able to work all the time and not take any breaks. It is important for students to add rest time into their schedules and incorporate rest breaks into study sessions. Active rest breaks during studying can have a positive influence on health and concentration. In a study introducing standing breaks during 90 minute lectures on a college campus, more than 75% of students reported increased concentration, motivation, well-being, and receptiveness following standing breaks (Paulus et al., 2021). Taking breaks that you set before you study can help to improve your mood and complete tasks quicker when compared to just taking breaks when you feel tired of studying or working on something (Biwer et al., 2023). The Pomodoro technique is a study method often recommended to students. This method involves first choosing what assignment to work on, working for 25 minutes, taking a 5 minute break, and taking a longer break around 15-30 minutes every 4 times you complete a 25 minute cycle (Mandal, 2020).

  • Say No Sometimes: It is important to be able to say no to others if you have too much going on. When attending college, you may find yourself wanting to attend various events on campus or off, go to the gym, and hang out with various friend groups. Make sure to find a balance between the amount of commitments you have and the amount of time you must spend working on school assignments, so you do not become burnt out (Student Mental Health Network, n.d.). It may seem tempting to make plans the night before a big assignment or test is due, but you may need to reserve that time to make sure you can study or touch up last minute details. To help you stay focused while working on assignments or studying, turn off your notifications or put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode (North Shore Community College, n.d.).

Additional Time Management Resources


Aeon, B., & Faber, A. (2021). Does time management work? A meta analysis. PLoS One, 16(1), e0245066.

Akinfolarin, V. (2017). Time management strategies as a panacea for principals’ administrative effectiveness in secondary schools in Enugu State, Nigeria. Journal for Studies in Management and Planning, 3(9), 22–31.

Biwer, F., Wiradhany, W., & Egbrink, M. (2023). Understanding effort regulation: Comparing ‘Pomodoro’ breaks and self-regulated breaks. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(S2), 353-367.

Holmefur, M., Lidstrom-Holmqvist, K., Roshanay, A., Arvidsson, P., White, S., & Janeslatt, G. (2019). Pilot study of let’s get organized: A group intervention for improving time management. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(5), 1-10.

Mandal, A. (2020). The pomodoro technique: An effective time management tool. National Institute of Health.,for%20every%20four%20pomodoro%20intervals

North Shore Community College. (n.d.). The importance of time management.

Paulus, M., Kunkel, J., Schmidt, S., Bachert, P., Wasche, H., Neumann, R., & Woll, A. (2021). Standing breaks in lectures improve university students’ self-perceived physical, mental, and cognitive conditions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(8), 4204.

Razali, S., Rusiman, M., Gan, W., & Arbin, N. (2018). The impact of time management on students’ academic achievement. Journal of Physics, 995, 1-7.

Schrager, S. (2022). Improving time management through modern-day to-do lists. Family Practice Management, 29(1), 5.

Student Mental Health Network. (n.d.). Navigating first year.

Wang, P., & Wang, X. (2018). Effect of time management training on anxiety, depression, and sleep. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 47(12), 1822-1831.

Being a college student, sometimes it can feel like you are stuck inside studying or working on assignments most of your day. To improve your mental health, you can prioritize spending time outdoors. Being outside and interacting with nature can help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression which are common mental health conditions impacting college students (Trevino et al., 2022). It is also beneficial in the areas of attention, memory, sleep, emotional stability, and quality of life (Buckley et al., 2018). Spending as little as 10 minutes of either sitting or walking outside in nature supports college-aged student mental health (Meredith et al., 2020). The optimal time spent outdoors for mental health is 10 to 20 minutes doing both active and more sedentary activities (Ibes & Forestell, 2022). Adding this short amount of time into your busy college schedule is an easy way to support your mental health.

Here are a few ways to incorporate the outdoors into your time on campus at UA Rich Mountain:

  • Eat lunch outside the student union: Eating lunch outside is a good way to fit the outdoors into your schedule if you do not have a lot of free time. Eating outside can have a positive impact on your overall health. A research study focusing on eating in nature, revealed that in a natural environment, participants were more relaxed and chose healthier food options more easily (Vanhatalo et al., 2022) .

  • Walk on the walking paths around the water on campus: Walking on the paths on campus can be used as a way to take a break from studying or to just get some extra movement into your daily routine. Compared with walking in other areas, such as on a track or downtown, walking in nature-based areas displays larger impacts on reducing anxiety and negative thoughts (Ma et al., 2023).

  • Play an outside sport on campus: On campus at UA Rich Mountain, there are many outside sports you can play. These include sports such as sand volleyball, basketball, and pickleball. Playing an outside sport on campus can help you to make connections with other students who enjoy the same things you do. Making friends who attend the same school as you is beneficial to support your academic performance by reducing stress and increasing your emotional support from others around you (Alotaibi, 2023).

  • Do homework / study outside: Working on school assignments or studying outdoors is a way to add nature into your routine without changing how you currently manage your time. Benefits of working on assignments and studying outside include increased problem solving skills, energy, and mood (University of Arizona Global Campus, 2023).

Additional Outdoor Resources


Alotaibi, T., Alkhalifah, K., Alhumaidan, N., Almutiri, W., Alsaleh, S., Alrashdan, F., Amutariri, H., Sabi, A., Almawash, A., Alfaifi, M., & Al-Mourgi, M. (2023). The benefits of friendships in academic settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Cureus, 15(12), e50946.

Buckley, R., Brough, P., & Westaway, D. (2018). Bringing outdoor therapies into mainstream mental health. Frontiers in Public Health, 6, 1-4.

Ibes, D., & Forestell, C. (2022). The role of campus greenspace and meditation on college students’ mood disturbance. Journal of American College Health, 70(1), 99-106.

Ma, J., Lin, P., & Williams, J. (2023). Effectiveness of nature-based walking interventions in improving mental health in adults: A systematic review. Current Psychology, 43, 9521-9539.

Meredith, G., Rakow, D., Eldermine, E., Masen, C., Shelly, S., & Sachs, N. (2020). Minimum time dose in nature to positively impact the mental health of college-aged students and how to measure it: A scoping review. Environmental Psychology, 10.

Trevino, J., Monsur, M., Lindquist, C., & Simpson, C. (2022). Student and nature interactions and their impact on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(9), 5030.

University of Arizona Global Campus. (2023). Studying outside vs. inside | The pros and cons.

Vanhatalo, S., Liedes, H., & Pennanen, K. (2022). Nature ambience in a lunch restaurant has the potential to evoke positive emotions, reduce stress, and support healthy food choices and sustainable behavior: A field experiment among Finnish customers. Foods, 11(7), 964.