Handling the Winter in College

By: Medi Woldemichael, Manning School of Business Well-being Leader

Keeping warm during the winter is important for us college students for health, productivity, safety, and comfort reasons. Taking steps to stay warm and prepared for the weather can help you stay healthy, productive, and happy throughout the winter. Here are some tips on how to keep up with the cold weather:

  1. Keep your living space warm: Check that your living space is well-insulated and has a good heating system. Close your windows to allow the heater to function. If you’re still cold, think about getting a space heater or a heated blanket. Keeping your living place warm will help you in avoiding cold-related health issues. If you live on campus, be sure to connect with your RA if there are any heating-related issues in your residence hall.
  2. Stay active: Winter weather can be challenging for college students who are used to a more active lifestyle. Try to stay active by going to the gym or walking to class on warmer days to avoid cabin fever. This can help you feel better physically and mentally and have more energy.
  3. Take care of yourself: Cold weather can affect your mental and physical health. To keep yourself feeling well, make sure that you’re eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough sleep. Stay organized and reduce 

Taking care of yourself and being proactive about winter weather can help you avoid potential problems and stay healthy and happy throughout the colder months. I hope these tips can help you keep up with the cold weather and stay warm!


Coffee: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

Sometimes it feels like life or death: must drink coffee or die. Coffee is the number one drink for college students and many have an unhealthy addiction. Throughout the years there has been much research done on coffee and there have been mixed findings. Coffee has been found to have many benefits as well as several drawbacks. 

A moderate coffee intake—about 2–5 cups per day has several benefits (1):

1. Coffee contains caffeine which is a stimulant. Caffeine increases energy levels by blocking the receptors of a neurotransmitter which therefore increases levels of other neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate energy levels. 

2. Some research suggests that regular coffee consumption could be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

3. Some studies have found that drinking coffee could be associated with a lower risk of depression and a lower risk of death by suicide.

4. There is research that suggests that coffee could support liver health and protect against liver disease (2).

Coffee can, however, be harmful to specific populations. In addition, a high intake of coffee is harmful to everyone:

1. The biggest danger of coffee is becoming addicted to it. Having a coffee addiction makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural energy source. Often people replace healthy good meals with coffee because it is more convenient. The body becomes dependent on coffee for energy and the person gets withdrawal symptoms if they do not get their daily caffeine. This reduces the person’s quality of life.

2. Coffee can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies. One study suggested that preconception caffeine consumption could be a risk to pregnancy, with pre-pregnancy consumption of >400 mg of caffeine/day increasing the risk of spontaneous abortion by 11%. Additionally, caffeine can cause developmental damage to the fetus.

3. Coffee and caffeine can be dangerous for those with mental illnesses. For other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, caffeine may increase psychotic symptoms (3). Also, too much caffeine can induce anxiety in people with panic or anxiety disorders (1) 

4. Caffeine increases catecholamines, cortisol, and insulin which elicits stress hormones. 

5. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, GERD, and dysbiosis.

6. Lastly, increased urinary excretion of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium has been observed in coffee drinkers. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to serious systemic complications and health issues (4). 

In conclusion, although coffee has a negative reputation, it also has many benefits which are not widely known. These benefits only exist if coffee is consumed in moderation, and a high intake of coffee is still harmful. However, even a moderate amount of coffee can be detrimental for some and it is always best to discuss with a doctor if you think coffee is affecting you in any way. Coffee should not feel like life or death, it should be a pleasant treat that occasionally gives you a temporary burst of energy. Everyone, especially college students, should be aware of their coffee consumption and the effects of coffee on their bodies and well-being.


1.  Is coffee good or bad for your health? (2021, April 9). News. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/is-coffee-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

2.   Link, M. R. S. (2022, January 11). 9 Unique Benefits of Coffee. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee

3.  Temple, J. L., Bernard, C., Lipshultz, S. E., Czachor, J. D., Westphal, J. A., & Mestre, M. A. (2017). The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 8, 80. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00080

4. 10 Reasons To Quit Coffee (Plus Healthy Alternatives) | HUNGRY FOR CHANGE. (n.d.). Hungry for Change. https://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/10-reasons-to-quit-coffee-plus-healthy-alternatives


by: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader

Many of us consider music to be a coping mechanism or a way to temporarily escape reality. We may use music as a way to relax, and we find this to be a natural response. When you ask several people what they do to relax, many of them will say “listen to music”. It turns out, there is a scientific reason for why this is so. Music has positive effects on our health and wellbeing. According to John Hopkins Medicine, “Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory (1)”.

Music can positively affect mental health. Research has found that listening to music can reduce stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers, as well as decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase serotonin, endorphin, and dopamine levels (chemicals that make you happy) in the blood (2). Music can help with depression in that listening to certain songs, such as upbeat songs or encouraging songs, can make you feel better. In general, listening to music that you like will make you feel happier. 

It has been discovered that music can affect the heart, blood pressure, and even breathing. Research found that when music is played, blood flows easier, blood pressure is lower, and the heart rate is reduced (2). Scientists traced music-induced physical/physiological changes to a part in the brain which is responsible for the unconscious regulation of body functions. Music therapy has become more common over the years. One study looked at the effects of music interventions on coronary heart disease patients. It found that “listening to relaxing music not only reduced heart and respiration rates but also oxygen demand of the heart in patients who have had a heart attack.” This also helps to reduce preoperative anxiety, reduce postoperative stress, and improve surgery outcomes for cardiac patients (3). 

Another way that music therapy is used is to reduce and manage pain. The Northshore University Health system states that “music can meaningfully reduce the perceived intensity of pain,  especially in geriatric care, intensive care or palliative medicine” (2). This is partially explained by the fact that music decreases stress levels and higher levels of stress increase pain. Additionally, music signals enter the brain and compete with the pain signals and so the brain focuses less on the pain (a positive form of using music as a distraction).

Overall, music has many beneficial health effects. It reduces stress and sadness, it relaxes your body which slows down your heart and lowers your blood pressure, and it can relieve and help manage pain. These, of course, are only some of the positive effects that music has. As mentioned in the John Hopkins Medicine article, music also affects sleep quality, mental alertness, memory, and more! It’s starting to make more sense why everyone always has earbuds in or headphones on.


  1. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/keep-your-brain-young-with-music#:~:text=Research%20has%20shown%20that%20listening,%2C%20mental%20alertness%2C%20and%20memory
  2. https://www.northshore.org/healthy-you/9-health-benefits-of-music/
  3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-music-can-literally-heal-the-heart/#:~:text=Music%20interventions%20are%20found%20to,have%20had%20a%20heart%20attack

How to Get Enough Sleep Step-By-Step

by: Casey Tiernan, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Do you ever wake up with little to no energy? Me too. This is a normal college experience for many students. This will be a step-by-step guide on how to get enough sleep to help you wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Getting enough sleep has many benefits to your health and well-being. It boosts your immune system, strengthens your heart, increases productivity, improves memory, and reduces stress. All of these benefits prevent chronic diseases and help to live a long fulfilling life. 

First, set a sleep alarm on your device. Setting an alarm when it is time to get some rest allows your brain to follow a set routine. I like to try and get to bed at the same time every night to set my body into a healthy routine. 

Second, set up a restful environment. Personally, I like to have my room cold with a fan on as well as a humidifier to help me breathe better. I also cannot sleep with any lights on. I will not get any sleep if my room is too hot because I get very irritable. Make sure to have your room environment to your likings to get comfy and ready for a good night’s sleep. 

Third, put your phone on do not disturb mode before bed to prevent being woken up by notifications. Every night, I turn on “do not disturb” so I will stop checking my phone and this allows me to disconnect and get some sleep. Before I did this, I would check my phone every time I got a notification which started to annoy me because I could not put my phone down. Such a small task but makes a huge difference. 

Fourth, do not take longer than 20–30-minute naps. A quick power nap (20-30 minutes) can help improve mood, sharpen focus, and reduce fatigue. If you nap longer than 30-minute naps, you may find yourself feeling groggier and more fatigued. Also note that naps should not replace the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.

Fifth, make a homework schedule each week. I block off different parts of my day to complete assignments and studying and by 6pm every night, I do not look at my work. I use this time until bed to focus on myself and my well-being. I like to read, take a shower, watch a movie, etc. Doing this allows you to take care of your emotional health and well-being and prevents burn out. 

After doing these steps for myself, I have managed to balance a tricky college life due to getting enough sleep. I can focus on my assignments without feeling drained and unmotivated. I started doing this in my junior year and noticed my academic success. It may sound silly, but getting enough sleep truly goes a long way.



The Importance of Sleep


As UMass Lowell enters its spring 2022 finals, it is important for students to remember how essential sleep is to academic success. Getting a good night’s sleep every night can dramatically improve test scores.

According to a study posted in the nbj Science of Learning journal, getting a good night’s sleep regularly, not just the night before an exam, is linked to better overall academic performance, including on exams. Regularly getting longer sleep, higher quality sleep, and consistent sleep account for 25% of the determining factor in overall grades.

Longer sleep was the first factor analyzed. Getting enough sleep is the most known element of being rested enough for strong academic performance, but it is still often under-looked on college campuses. In general, getting more sleep is better than getting less, however, everyone should strive to get around 8 hours of sleep a night.

Higher sleep quality is also important to feeling rested every day. Sometimes factors outside of anyone’s control can make sleep more challenging, but there are controllable elements in ensuring higher quality sleep. Reducing use of technology before bedtime, taking less naps, exercising throughout the day, and not eating too close to bedtime can all assist in getting the best sleep possible.

One of the most under-looked parts of sleep health is sleep consistency. People who go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning typically feel more well-rested than people who fall asleep and wake up at different times each day, even if they get the same amount of sleep. Setting personal bedtimes and wake-up times every day can not only lead to feeling more well-rested but can also improve nightly quality of sleep.

Sleep is crucial to academic performance because, when people are not well-rested, it can be more challenging to think clearly. The time people sleep recharges their brains and ensures that they can perform as strongly as possible the next day. More sleep, and better sleep, each night gives the brain more time to recharge and be ready for the next day.

Consistency in personal sleep schedules also helps the brain in this recharging process because it teaches the brain when it should sleep and when it should be awake every day. If someone were to fall asleep at 10 pm every night and wake up at 6 am every morning, the brain and body gets used to this pattern, and the brain ensures that the body is ready to function by 6 am every morning. With inconsistent sleep schedules, the brain cannot learn when it is time to rest and when it is time to be active, which can lead to feeling tired during the day and energetic at night.

Memory is highly important to academic success, which is reliant on having a well-functioning brain. When people get a good night of sleep every night, it allows the brain to retain more information both in the short-term and the long-term. Adopting these healthy sleeping habits can lead to stronger academic success in college students.

Don’t Sleep on Trivia Night 3/22/22

On March 22nd, 2022, The Office of Student Life and Well-being hosted their first event, Don’t Sleep on Trivia. Students are constantly reporting that they don’t get enough sleep, and March is Sleep Awareness Month, which made it the perfect time for an event related to sleep.

Students were able to attend both in person and virtually. The event was also a “Destination UML” event, meaning that prospective students considering attending UML were able to attend as well.

The room filled up with students eager to learn about healthy sleep habits, so much so that we ran out of chairs! Students enjoyed whole wheat zucchini muffins and yogurt parfaits, which both contain a healthy balance of carbohydrates and dairy, making them the perfect snack for a good night’s sleep.

The event kicked off with a presentation about the science of sleep by Diana Walker-Moyer, Director of Health Services. She explained that sleep is a time for the body to restore, and not the brain. She spoke of the hormones that affect our sleep, emphasizing the importance of getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night and waking up at the same time each day. She explained that healthy sleep improves our physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being.

After Diana’s great presentation, Assistant Director of Student Life and Well-being, Hannah Monbleau hosted Round 1 of Trivia. Students answered questions about the science of sleep [which were informed by Professor Zhang from the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences] from their phones (how convenient!). The top 3 winners were announced on the leader board and a sleep mask, essential oil diffuser, and Tempurpedic pillow were claimed by the winners!

Up next, University Dining’s Dietitian provided nutrition tips for healthy sleep. She broke them into her “Sleep Do’s” and “Sleep Don’ts”

According to Melissa, to achieve healthy sleep you should:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet
  • Limit highly processed foods
  • Have a carbohydrate containing snack 1 hour before bed combined with a dairy product

To achieve healthy sleep, you should NOT:

  • Deprive yourself of sleep- you will be hungrier and prefer high fat and high sugar foods
  • Have caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime
  • Eat highlight processed foods before bed, and avoid being energy depleted, as it will be harder to fall asleep.

Next, the Office of Student Life and Well-being shared some tips from Jon Bragg, Associate Director of Residential Education, including respecting quiet and courtesy hours, and requesting support from an RA if someone is being too loud, making your room as comfortable as possible, having a blanket for the winter and a fan for the summer, creating a sleep schedule for your roommate and always using headphones when watching TV or listening to music.

After Melissa and Res Life’s great tips, Hannah Monbleau hosted a 2nd round of trivia. This time, the 10 questions were related to sleep dos and don’ts. Students answered on their phones and the top 3 winners won! The prizes were a lavender sleep spray, a sound machine, and a weighted blanket.

The event concluded with Diana Walker-Moyer providing attendees with the following take-aways:

  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep at night
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment
  • If you lose sleep, catch up by going to bed 1-2 hours earlier the next night
  • Avoid daytime naps if you can, but if you must nap, limit it to 20-30 minutes
  • Put the lid on the caffeine, the nicotine, and the alcohol too close to bedtime
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only.
  • Exercise to move your body! But don’t exercise 3-4 hours before bedtime.
  • Finish regular meals 2-3 hours before bed, but don’t go to sleep hungry! Have a healthy bedtime snack such as yogurt with granola or cheese and crackers.

Students and staff that attended hopefully left feeling full of both yummy food and great sleep knowledge and were ready to have the best night’s sleep of their lives!