Sleep and the College Student

shutterstock_218779564Cramming for exams, research, work, even late-night parties – there are many things that compete for a college student’s time and sleep is often the first thing to go. But getting an adequate amount of sleep is important for a student’s overall health and well-being.

On average, a young adult should get eight to nine hours of sleep. When a person experiences a chronic lack of adequate sleep, there can be numerous and sometimes significant side effects, including:

  • Mood issues such as irritability and frustration
  • Difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, creativity and organizational skills
  • Impulse control – individuals are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors such as drinking or driving fast
  • Impaired driving – driving while drowsy is associated with more than 300,000 traffic accidents every year
  • Obesity – a lack of sleep can lead the body to crave more calorically dense foods as well as increased insulin resistance

Good sleep habits can help ensure students get the rest they need. While it can be difficult in a college setting, it’s important to try and stay on a regular sleep schedule – going to bed and waking at the same time. While there may be a temptation to stay up late and sleep late on the weekends, ideally the schedule shouldn’t vary by more than an hour. Additional suggestions for maintaining a good sleep schedule include:

  • Limit naps to no more than 30 minutes, and preferably in the early afternoon
  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm. The stimulating effects of caffeine can wear off much sooner than the effects on sleep. So, even if a person feels tired, the caffeine may prevent him or her from falling asleep.
  • Avoid substances like smoking, alcohol and drugs.
  • Turn off electronic devices including phones, computers, tables and TVs. The light level from these devices can affect the bodies’ internal sleep clock and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Sleep and the College Student
About Cami Matthews, MD
Dr. Cami Matthews is a sleep medicine specialist at Wisconsin Sleep and a pediatrician at UW Health East Clinic.

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Age-Appropriate Portions

Serving SizesNovember appears to be the calm before the holiday storm. It is when the holiday eating begins. Most Americans gain an average of 10 lbs over the holiday season, but this doesn’t have to be a family tradition. One can still enjoy the Thanksgiving faire and seasonal treats in moderation.

Learning about age-appropriate portion sizes can be a key to success. While people of all ages need a variety of food groups, the servings from the food groups vary greatly. Check out the chart below to see what is appropriate for you and your family:

Food group 1-3 years 4-5 years 6-12 years 12+ years
Milk (2-3 servings per day)
Milk 4 oz 6 oz 8 oz 8 oz
Cheese ½ oz 1 oz 1 oz 1.5 oz
Yogurt 4 oz 6 oz 6 oz 6 oz
Vegetables  (3-5 servings per day)
Cooked ¼ cup ¼-½ cup ½ cup ½ cup
Raw ½ cup ½ cup 1 cup 1 cup
Fruit (2-4 servings per day)
Raw ½ small 1 small ½ medium 1 medium
Canned ¼ cup ½ cup ½ cup ½ cup
Juice, 100% 3 oz 4 oz 4 oz 4 oz
Grains (5 or less servings per day)
Bread ½ slice 1 slice 1 slice 1 slice
Pasta, rice,
hot cereal, cooked
¼ cup 1/3 cup ½ cup ½ cup
Cold cereal ½ cup 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup
Crackers 2-3 4-6 6 6
Meat & Beans  (2-3 servings per day)
Beef & poultry 1-2 oz 2 oz 2-3 oz 3 oz
Fish 1-2 oz 1-2 oz 3-4 oz 5-6 oz
Eggs ½ 1 1 1
Peanut butter 1 Tbsp 1-2 Tbsp 2 Tbsp 2 Tbsp
Beans ¼ cup ¼-½  cup ½ cup ½ cup

When working towards healthier portions a few suggestions can make the transition much easier.

  • Try using a smaller plate. A nine-inch plate, or smaller is recommended for adults and a six inch plate may be best for children under 12 years of age.
  • Load up on non-starchy vegetables. By filling half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables, one can ensure that they won’t have room for extra servings of protein or starch.
  • Drink up. Enjoy 8 ounces of water before and/or after the meal to ensure that the increased appetite is not triggered by thirst.

Overall, the holiday season doesn’t have to equal weight gain. Experiment with the tactics above to start a new family holiday tradition!

November Recipe: Tasty Taco Bar


  • 6 whole wheat, low-fat tortillas (small)
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3 cups lettuce, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup low-fat cheese, shredded
  • 1 can fat-free refried beans

Begin by washing and preparing all vegetables.

Place a medium sauté pan on the stove and place thawed ground turkey into the pan. Heat the turkey over medium heat.

Begin to brown the turkey over medium heat; stirring occasionally. Cook the turkey until the juices run clear and there is no pink in sight.

Turn off the stove and drain the ground turkey in a colander and clean the sauté pan.

Return the cooked turkey to a clean sauté pan and add 1-2 tbsp water, cumin and chili powder. Cover the turkey and allow the meat to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

While the turkey is simmering, place all other prepared ingredients in separate dishes.

Warm the refried beans.

Serve the turkey warm and all other ingredients chilled.

Age-Appropriate Portions
About Cassie Vanderwall, MS, RD, CD, CDE, CPT
Cassie Vanderwall is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and certified diabetes educator at the UW Health Pediatric Fitness Clinic and Pediatric Diabetes Clinic. Cassie is passionate about empowering families by equipping them with the tools they need to achieve a healthier life.

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Keep laundry “pods” out of reach of small children

shutterstock_198793391If you use “pods” to do laundry, please consider being more careful with where they are being kept.  A recent Pediatrics report documents more than 17,000 exposures – more than one per hour – to potentially dangerous laundry products over the past two years. Parents of young children should be careful when storing the packets that contain highly-concentrated detergent.

Laundry “pods” are single-use packets of detergent enclosed in a membrane that dissolves in water when added to a load. For busy moms and dads they’re a convenient start to a quick wash.  But with their bright colors and easily-punctured lining, they’ve also proven attractive to kids’ curious eyes and vulnerable to their prying hands.

The problem with these products is if you handle them with damp or wet hands, they dissolve almost immediately. Children can get the detergent on their hands and in their eyes. If a small child puts one in his mouth, it releases a highly-concentrated dose of detergent.

These concentrated doses can lead to vomiting (experienced by half of the 17,230 exposure cases), coughing or choking (13 percent), and eye pain or irritation (11 percent), as documented by the Pediatrics study, which counted exposures for the years 2012 and 2013 for children younger than 6 years old. One child in Florida died following exposure to a laundry pod.

For about half of the exposures children were seen in a health care facility, which is more than double the number of referrals you would expect to see with a laundry product.

On a positive note, from April to December 2013 reports of exposure from laundry packets decreased by 25 percent. This may be attributable to campaigns organized by public health organizations and poison centers. A change in industry behavior may have also helped. Some of the companies made the containers opaque, so the child might not see the bright colors. Some put latches on the containers, making them somewhat more difficult to open for a child.

Parents with small children should consider using ‘conventional’ laundry products that are not as concentrated or potentially toxic. If you do use laundry packets keep them in a locked cupboard that is out of a child’s reach.





Keep laundry “pods” out of reach of small children
About Donna Lotzer
Donna Lotzer is a clinical pharmacist and the UW Health Poison Education Coordinator.

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Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Boy Hand WashingWhen the seasons start to change, pediatricians sense more than just winter in the air. Common colds, pink eyes, ear infections, coughs and the flu are guaranteed to arrive, just like the snow.

While most common illnesses will be over relatively quickly, it can be difficult to watch your child experience the symptoms once, let alone several times, during the season. Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to prevent illnesses.

Wash Those Hands

  • Use warm water when you wash your hands. Warm water is better at killing germs, and reduces the risk of burning yourself with water that is too hot.
  • Use whatever soap you like (antibacterial soap isn’t necessary — any soap will do.)
  • Work up a generous lather on both sides of your hands, your wrists, and between your fingers. Don’t forget to wash around your nails – germs’ favorite finger hideaway. Train your kids and yourself to sing the birthday song or count to 20 as you wash your hands.
  • Rinse with warm water and dry well with a clean towel.
  • Wash your hands often. Especially before eating or touching food in any way, after using the bathroom, blowing your nose or coughing, touching animals, playing or participating in sports or visiting a sick friend.
  • Hand sanitizer is a wonderful innovation (though it should be used in addition to, not instead of, hand washing). Use it frequently but carefully with your children.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Try not to touch your face. Eyes, mouths and noses serve as wonderful habitats for cold and flu bugs. Disinfect door handles, toys and other surfaces. My children may have labeled me as the super-safety mom, but they have listened.

Cover That Cough

It really is adorable to see all these children covering their mouths with their elbows (the vampire cough). Now, if we could only teach adults to cover their mouths with coughing and sneezing and throw away used tissues.

Get Immunized

For pediatricians, Ben Franklin’s old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be more true. Hence, the following tidbit on the Influenza vaccine: every member of your family should get the flu shot.

Influenza is primarily a respiratory illness which can last at least a week. Parents ask me if the vaccine is safe.  It is. The vaccine’s few side effects range from soreness at the injection site to fever. But, the effects of the Influenza illness can go well beyond just a few days of discomfort. Coughing, sore throats, high fevers, rigors (full body shakes), body sweats, clawing headaches and body aches that possess your being. And that is just you – the adult. Imagine then the experience of an infant or young child with Influenza. I cannot. Every year I sympathize so much with my patients who get sick with it.

Get the facts about six flu and flu vaccine myths.

Finally, good nutrition and rest, along with exercise and good mental health (and stress management) can only help you and your family during sick season. Sick season will come and it will go and we will all be happier with its exit.

Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season
About Caroline R. Paul, MD
Dr. Caroline R. Paul is a pediatrician at UW Health West Clinic.

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A Parent’s Guide to the Measles

Smiling ToddlerWhen I hear 594, I think about…

So far this year, almost 2 people per day in the United States has become infected with measles. Yes, 594 people in the United States from Jan 1 to September 29th have developed measles.

As a pediatric resident, I’ve read a lot about measles but have never diagnosed a child with measles. In fact, many pediatricians who trained in the last 15-20 years are like me. That’s why our newsletters are currently filled with information about how to identify measles, how to prevent the complications, and how to keep our patients healthy. The physicians who have cared for children with measles tell very passionate stories about this preventable disease. These stories can be tearjerkers! But, as a pediatrician, I want my families to know the facts and feel comfortable making educated decisions. So, here are the facts I believe are most important to know about measles and the protective Measles-Mumps and Rubella(MMR) vaccine.

What is measles?

Measles is a virus (also called rubeola) that causes symptoms of cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, fever and an interesting rash (one that moves from the head down to the belly.)

What’s the big deal about measles?

Even though measles sounds similar to many other viruses, this one leads to many complications. Here’s why I worry about measles:

  • 1 of 10 kids with measles gets an ear infection
  • 1 of 20 kids with measles gets pneumonia
  • 1 of 1000 kids with measles gets brain damage (called encephalitis)
  • 2 of 1000 kids with measles will die
  • In 2011, 38% of kids under the age of 5 who got measles needed to be treated in the hospital

Why do people worry so much when 1 person has measles?

  • Measles is very good at its job of infecting other people, it’s very contagious! It spreads in the air when someone coughs or sneezes.
  • If you imagine 1 person with measles, they can infect 90% of unimmunized people close by to them. Wow, that’s powerful.

How do you protect your children and yourself from measles?

  • You can probably guessed this answer! It’s the MMR (or measles mumps and rubella vaccine.)
  • We give this vaccine to kids between 12-15 months AND again at 4-6 years.
  • Some kids should get this vaccine earlier. If you’re traveling internationally, babies should get the vaccine as early at 6 months. Talk to your pediatrician about this.
  • Some kids can’t get the vaccine at all. This includes kids with serious diseases like cancer. Your pediatrician will have more details.

How can we protect babies less than 12 months of age who aren’t ready to get the vaccine?

  • Make certain you and the other adults your baby plays with are vaccinated.
  • Consider this like “cocooning” your baby from the illness. Ask (or email) your friends to see if they (and their kids) have been vaccinated. The CDC recommended this strategy for pertussis and the same idea works for measles.

Does the vaccine work?

Vaccines have received lots of negative news.  How can we sort fact from fiction? Let’s look at numbers again to answer this question.

  • Before the vaccine, 3-4 million people in the United States got measles each year.
  • Now, with lots of people getting the measles vaccine, the number of people with measles has dropped by over 99%.
  • With 2 doses of the vaccine, more than 99% of babies will have immune protection from the 3 viruses.

What are the risks of the vaccine?

Mild side effects are most common:

  • Elevated temperature (1 in 6 kids)
  • Mild rash (1 in 20 kids)
  • Swelling of glands in the neck (1 in ~ 75 kids)
  • More moderate side effects are less common
  • Seizure from fever (1 in 3,000 kids)
  • Low platelets (1 in 30,000 kids)
  • Joint aches (usually in teens or adults)

The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. There have been lots of recent studies that confirm this.

Want to learn more?

Check out the great sites below or set up a time to talk with your pediatrician.

A Parent’s Guide to the Measles
About Hilary Stempel, MD
Dr. Stempel is a pediatric resident at the University of Wisconsin Pediatric Residency Program.

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