From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – The Importance of Sleep

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Getting Your Zzzs:
The Importance of Sleep

The impact of consistently obtaining a good night’s sleep can never be overemphasized, especially on a college campus. On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation seems to be at an all-time high. The following is a review of the importance of sleep, and how to acquire it.

A recent statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep. According to the CDC, sleeping at least 7 hours each night is required “to promote optimal health and well-being.” Most health professionals recommend 7 to 9 hours.

Conversely, sleeping less than 7 hours per night puts you at risk of:

  • Developing a chronic condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and frequent mental difficulties,
  • Elevated stress hormones,
  • Mood swings,
  • Slower response time,
  • Confusion, and lack of focus,
  • Poor decision-making, and
  • Unnecessary risk-taking.

In our everyday lives, these could translate to poor job performance, grades, relationships, and also driving or operating machinery.

The number of sleep-deprived adults can be considerably higher in college communities. As the nurse in the Hilbert College Wellness Center, most of my sick patients are sleep-deprived, acquiring fewer than six hours per night. There are many excuses for this, such as living with a loud roommate, studying for a test, going out late at night, working at a night job, or just not being that motivated or self-controlled. Many students are unaware of how important sleep really is.

Sleep is probably THE most important health practice! Here are some reasons. While you sleep, your brain is forming pathways for learning and storing memories. Your body is building up its immune system and healing damage caused throughout the day. Hormones called cytokines, which are produced during the night, are crucial for your immune system to fight infection and inflammation. During the day, a compound called adenosine is built up, and it is only broken down again by getting enough sleep. If you miss a few nights of sound sleep, the adenosine will build up and cause sleepiness during the day. Another substance, a hormone called melatonin, makes you naturally feel sleepy at night, but that can be reversed to daytime sleepiness, if you don’t fulfill your nighttime sleep requirements.

Going to bed at the same time every night, say 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., allows your body to cycle through sleep stages, each with a specific purpose. The four stages must be experienced in chronological order for sleep to do its job. In addition, the beginning of the night presents longer stages than the end of the night. For example, non-REM deep sleep, considered the “restorative” stage of sleep occurs mostly in the first half of the night. Knowing this makes it clear that going to bed at the same time every night is crucial to maintaining good health.

If you know you have gotten off-track, here are some ways to improve your sleep habits:

  1. Get enough exercise and fresh air during the day, so you are sleepy at the right time. Make sure this is not within two hours of your newly established bedtime, though.
  2. Eat healthfully. When you fuel your body properly, it just runs better overall. Also, don’t eat any large meals just before bed. Indigestion may wake you up!
  3. Use caffeine only in the morning. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it will disrupt your sleep.
  4. Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol may help put you to “sleep” at the beginning of the night, but it has been shown to cause lighter, less fitful sleep, and it actually interrupts sleep halfway through the night, as well as causing dehydration. Nicotine (in cigarettes) is a stimulant that leads to lighter than normal sleep.
  5. Establish a “bedtime” again, and stick to it. Your parents were right to enforce this, and now you know why.
  6. Don’t take a nap longer than 20 minutes, or past 3:00 p.m. This may make it more difficult to wake up fully, and then to go to sleep at your predetermined time.
  7. Wind down at night by dimming lights, turning off the TV and electronics (including your cell phone!), and taking a hot shower or bath before bed. Have a comfortable bed and pillow, and keep the room temperature cool.
  8. Put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door, if you live in a community that stays up late.
  9. Wear ear plugs, if necessary.
  10. For chronic insomnia, see a doctor who can help you determine the cause of your sleeplessness.
  11. Avoid sleeping pills. These are habit-forming, and should be used only as a last resort and only occasionally.
  12. Don’t rely on sleeping in on the weekends. This may erase some of your sleep debt, but not all of it. It will also make it much more difficult to get to sleep at the proper time on Sunday night.
  13. Learn how to manage time. Ultimately, going to bed at the right time, rather than studying for that test until the wee hours, will help you do better on your test the next day. It would be even better to schedule study time during the daytime.

Remember the words of Ben Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Sweet dreams!

For more information, visit these Web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Guide to Healthy Sleep:


Coffee House Poet Night at Hilbert

Olivia Gatwood at Hilbert College
sponsored by SHARE and the Counseling Center

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
7:00 p.m.
St. Joseph’s Lounge    

Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Olivia Gatwood has received national recognition for her poetry, writing workshops, and work as a Title IX Compliant educator in sexual assault prevention and recovery.  As a finalist at Brave New Voices, Women of the World and the National Poetry Slam, Olivia is an active member of the slam poetry community and has been featured on HBO, Verses & Flow, Button Poetry and Huffington Post, among others. Olivia has traveled nationally to perform and teach workshops on gender equality, sexuality, and social justice at over 70 colleges and 30 high schools nationwide.

Olivia will be performing some of her poetry on Wednesday, March 22nd at 7 p.m. in the St. Joseph’s Lounge as a part of “Relaxing in the Lounge” weekly activity sponsored by the Counseling Center. This event is sponsored by the S.H.A.R.E. Committee and the Counseling Center.

The Opening Act for Olivia Gatwood will be Hilbert College student Brynn Biesik, who will be reading three of her poems.

Phi Beta Lambda Fish Fry – March 24

Phi Beta Lambda logoTo help raise funds for Hilbert’s chapter of Phi Beta Lambda,​ the business club is hosting
a fish fry on Friday March 24, 2017. The fish fry will go from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the dining hall on campus, which is located on the second floor of the campus center. Adult meals are $10.50 per person and kids meals are $6.50 per kid. There is a menu for both adults and kids. The club will also be conducting a 50/50 raffle during the event.

March 24, 2017 | 4-7 PM
Hilbert College Campus Center
$10.50 Adult Meals
$6.50 Kid Meals

Phi Beta Lambda Business and Accounting Association is a nationwide organization that’s mission is “to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.”  Hilbert College’s chapter meets every week and has accomplished placing in state competitive testings for several years, planning and attending numerous business tours and networking events throughout the Western New York community, and currently preparing for a business trip to Ohio this semester.

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Winning Health Battles, with Proper Hygiene

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”:
Winning Health Battles, with Proper Hygiene

Every day, everywhere we go, we are surrounded by opportunistic germs and parasites. Some are “good,” some are “bad,” and some can even be “ugly.” They could be on your doorknobs, countertops, hand rails, toilet, in your food, clothing, sheets, the gym you frequent, or even in your own reusable water bottles. Some exposure to germs can be “good” for you and strengthen your immune system; they can be beneficial, and you shouldn’t “wipe” them out. In fact, even some “bad” germs can benefit you by strengthening your immunity to invaders. But, how you approach these “bad guys” can make a difference between being sick frequently, and rarely coming down with an illness at all.

It isn’t enjoyable to contemplate these bad guys, but, face it. This is reality. As the gunfighters in westerns prove, you can’t win a fight without bullets. There are consequences for practicing poor hygiene. Since information is power, you don’t want to be low on ammunition. You should stand ready and armed with knowledge! Here is a short list of the most common assailants for which to be vigilant.

Hygiene-related illnesses and diseases are caused by villains, such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Colds and the flu, as well as plantar warts, are caused by viruses. Bacterial illnesses include dental caries and swimmer’s ear. Athlete’s foot and ringworm are fungal. Lice (whether body, pubic or head), and pinworm are parasitical. And chronic diarrhea and recreational water illness have various causes.

The following are some general tips for everyday personal hygiene:

  • Wash your hands. It is the best way to avoid getting sick! (Wash Your Hands – Recent Article)
  • Don’t touch your face, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth, with soiled hands. Conversely, don’t touch your face with clean hands and forget to wash your hands afterward.
  • Brush your teeth and tongue two to three times per day. Floss once per day.
  • Bathe regularly, and keep your nails clean and short.
  • Foot hygiene: Athlete’s foot and plantar warts can be avoided by wearing sandals in public bathrooms or shower areas.
  • Clothing hygiene: Wear clean clothes, change underwear and socks daily, don’t wear someone else’s shoes or soiled clothing, and wear clothing that is appropriate for the season and the circumstances.
  • Sexual hygiene: Find one partner for life, preferably. (See below for link to article on STDs.)

The following are tips for keeping a clean environment:

  • Cleaning your home: First wash surfaces with an appropriate cleaner and warm water, to remove dirt and grime. Use paper towels or washable rags. Always disinfect rags or sponges before reusing them, or toss them out. Dust, open windows to ventilate, and open the curtains to let the sunshine in.
  • Disinfecting your home: After cleaning, use a germ-killing solution, such as a bleach or vinegar solution, to sanitize surfaces, such as door knobs and handles, countertops where food is prepared, faucets, and anything that gets handled frequently.
  • Wash out your reusable water bottles every day, and let them air dry. (See the link below for water bottle hygiene.) Bacteria thrive around the caps of water bottles, especially those that still have a moist environment inside.
  • Don’t share personal care tools (e.g. toothbrush, nail clipper, comb, towels, glasses, cups, utensils).
  • Keep your refrigerator clean, to kill mold and mildew (fungi).
  • Food: Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, checking expiration dates on canned and bagged items. Don’t eat cooked food, such as a casserole, that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours. Even reheating won’t kill the germs that will make you sick. Just toss it out. (“Waste it!”)
  • Wash sheets, towels, workout clothes and underwear in hot water and use a hot clothes dryer.

If you follow these guidelines, you will most likely be healthier, feel ill infrequently, and appear a great deal healthier, too. In other words, you will prosper in disarming the “good,” killing the “bad,” and dodging the “ugly.”

For more information on everyday hygiene, visit these Web sites:

Personal hygiene
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

Personal hygiene checklist

Household cleaning tips
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

Water bottle hygiene

Article “How Clean Should We Be?”

Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Alcohol Alternatives for St. Paddy’s Day

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Stay Lucky!
Alcohol Alternatives for St. Paddy’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday this year, and that means many college students will find opportunities to enjoy the festivities. But, since 21 is the legal drinking age, it’s worthwhile to look at some alternatives to drinking alcohol that could be equally as enjoyable or more so.

First, let’s review a little about drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful or smart. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • One (serving-sized) drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. If you damage your liver, contrary to hearsay, it does not always grow back to normal. (Think fatty liver and cirrhosis.)
  • Serving sizes: If you choose to drink alcohol, be aware of these serving sizes:
    • Beer—12 ounces
    • Liquor—one ounce
    • Wine—five ounces.
  • Stay hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration, drink eight ounces of water per hour. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.)
  • Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
  • Designate a driver. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation.

Some reasons to avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol damages liver tissue, sometimes permanently. Brain tissue is permanently damaged by drinking alcohol (something to “think” about, if you are a serious college student). It can also lower inhibitions and make you act in a way you would not normally act. Alcohol is a depressant, and so somebody who drinks alcohol regularly is more likely to develop mental health side effects, such as chronic depression. Alcoholic beverages are also highly caloric, with very little nutritional value. If you put junk into your body, you will get junk in return. It is not the best choice for an ambitious college student.

So, then, what are some alternatives to drinking that green beer? Many Web sites address ideas for alcohol-free celebrations. (See below for links.) Here are a few good ideas:

  • Attend a mass or church service. Patrick is considered a saint, so this would be appropriate! Learn more about St. Patrick at
  • Host an alcohol-free party in your residence hall, and substitute green beer with other beverages that are already green, or with green food coloring added.
  • Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade in Buffalo this year is on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m. along Delaware Avenue.
  • Dress in green all day (or all weekend).
  • Buy an Irish beverage, such as a Shamrock shake or Irish coffee.
  • Sip a non-alcoholic beverage if attending a party where alcohol is served. Adding a bit of green food coloring will make it more festive.
  • Find a fish fry. Fish fry Friday is hard to miss during the Lenten season.
  • Learn how to Irish step dance. There are videos online. Here is one to try:
  • Host an Irish movie night. Suggestions from “Waking Ned Devine,” “The Snapper,” “Intermission,” “The Crying Game,” “My Left Foot,” or “The Commitments.”

Finally, you’ll be glad you resisted the temptation to drink because it’s much more fun to be in control, you won’t have a hangover when you need to study, you will not be suffering from the consequences of decisions made when under the influence, you will actually remember the fun you had and the memories you made, and your waistline, liver, brain, and overall health will thank you. Making the right choices will empower you and not depress you!

For more information on enjoying an alcohol-free holiday, visit these Web sites:

Alcohol facts and statistics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day Drink Recipes

More Non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day Drinks Recipes

Fact sheet about alcohol and your health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Ideas for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day without alcohol

Related news stories

Young Life Heads to New Orleans

Spring break is upon us! What are your plans this spring break? Keeping true to their Franciscan identity, 10 Hilbert College students plan to volunteer their time this break to help rebuild housing in New Orleans, Louisiana from the lingering devastation from Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. The student organization, Young Life, will be representing Hilbert College for its second year in New Orleans while serving with an organization called Saint Bernard Project.

Saint Bernard Project (SBP) is a non-profit organization established in March 2006 to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina within St. Bernard Parish, located in Southeast Louisiana. A little more than 11 years later and there are still and estimated 3,000 families in New Orleans whose homes are in need of repair. To date, SBP has rebuilt nearly 700 homes in New Orleans and lends its helping hand in 11 US states.

Students will spend their days hard at work, doing varying tasks from carpentry and construction to demolition and landscaping. As these students prepare to leave on Saturday March 4th, they ask for your prayers and good intentions to accompany them. Follow along in their journey by keeping tabs on #HilbertNOLA17 on Twitter and Instagram!

If you wish to learn more about these students’ journeys, email for more information!

Photos from last year’s trip

From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Stay Healthy on Spring Break

by Kirsten Falcone, RN

Stay Healthy on Spring Break

springbreakSpring Break is quickly approaching, and some college students choose to travel south for much-needed warmer weather, sunshine, and relaxation. In order to benefit the most from spring break, there are some key health items to remember.

Protect yourself from the sun. The shortened daylight associated with the winter months has taken its toll on all of us by this time of year. But that is no reason to forget to protect yourself from sunburn. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15 (preferably much higher) and reapply often, wear cover-ups and a hat, avoid the sun between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and wear sunglasses. If (but preferably before) you notice a sunburn, get out of the sun, and keep hydrated. Mild sunburns can be soothed with over-the-counter pain medications and cool compresses. Avoid any more sun exposure until the current burn has resolved.

Be smart when drinking alcohol. The healthiest choice is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women and two glasses per day for men. The liver cannot process more than one ounce of hard liquor, five ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer per hour. In addition, drink one eight-ounce glass of water per alcoholic drink, if at all possible, to prevent the effects of dehydration. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation. Also be aware of people who might prey on unsuspecting tourists.

Be aware of diseases and health risks. This year the Zika virus is even more of a concern than last year. If you are traveling to anywhere on the globe that is on the CDC’s high-risk list (including parts of Florida and Texas), (, you will need to use mosquito repellent especially during the daylight hours in order to reduce the likelihood of Zika mosquitoes transmitting the virus to you.

Many travelers also come down with “Montezuma’s revenge” (food poisoning), but there are tips on avoiding that, too. The CDC has an app called “Can I Eat This?” For more information, go to this link: When you go to the link, you can also download other helpful travel apps.

Wherever you plan to go, near or far, have a safe, relaxing and healthful Spring Break!

For more comprehensive information on enjoying a healthful Spring Break, visit these Web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):


Baylor University: