UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative celebration gives a nod to sleep

Shut eye. Sack time. Slumber.

With one in three Americans — and a whopping seven in 10 American college students — not getting sufficient time with the sandman, it’s no surprise that many of us are losing sleep over losing sleep.

The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative aims to reawaken our understanding of — and respect for — sleep at its annual celebration event to be held April 20 in Pauley Pavilion. A sleep fair with healthy food samples, prizes and student group posters begins at 5 p.m. This will be followed by a panel discussion, live entertainment and an awards presentation beginning at 7 p.m. and a book signing with Arianna Huffington beginning at 8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone.

"Healthy sleep is a crucial intersecting theme of the Healthy Campus Initiative,” said Dr. Wendy Slusser, associate vice provost of the Healthy Campus Initiative, envisioned and supported by Jane and Terry Semel and launched in 2013. “It’s essential for maintaining and improving mental, physical and social health and for our students healthy sleep is linked to positive academic performance.”

Among the evening’s notable guests is Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post and author of “The Sleep Revolution,” who will moderate a panel discussion about sleep.

Panelists will include UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, whose scientific work focuses on sleep and circadian rhythms; Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers forward and mental health and healthy eating advocate; Jerry Siegel, director of the UCLA Center for Sleep Research and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences; Shelly Ibach, president and CEO of Sleep Number; and Hosain Rahman, founder and CEO of Jawbone. Together, they will dispel myths about sleep, discuss the stigma associated with sleep and offer helpful tips for those eager to improve sleep habits.

“The most common sleep misconception is that burning out is the necessary price for accomplishment and success,” said Huffington, who is touring colleges promoting her latest book. “The motto ‘Sleep, grades, social life: pick two’ — or some version of it, can be heard on college campuses across the country. It’s yet more evidence, as if we needed any, that college students today feel as if they’re in a no-win situation, forced to choose between sleep and life.”

Huffington said although society’s relationship with sleep may be in crisis, we are living in a “golden age of sleep science,” which is revealing myriad ways sleep and dreams play a vital role in decision making, emotional intelligence, cognitive function and creativity.

“Every week, new research reveals how vital sleep is to our health, happiness, job performance and relationships,” Huffington said. “So when we fail to give sleep the respect it deserves, we put all of these parts of our life at risk.”

Other highlights of the evening include performances by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble, Resonance A Cappella, the UCLA World Arts and Cultures Undergraduate Society, the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, and members of the NCAA championship-winning UCLA gymnastics team; and the presentation of the jane b semel Healthy Campus Initiative Appreciation and Recognition Awards, which honor UCLA students, faculty, staff and senior administrators for significant contributions to individual, departmental, divisional goals and objectives that promote health and wellness at UCLA.

Event tickets are available at the UCLA Central Ticket Office, limit four per person. To request tickets by phone, call 310-825-2101. Tickets will also be available at several other locations, including Covel Commons, Murphy Hall, the North Campus Student Center, Kerckhoff Hall, Wilshire Center and the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, beginning April 11. Limit four per person. Those interested in reserving a block of tickets for a larger group, department or class may do so by completing a form online.

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