The Importance of Sleep (part 4)

What Can We Do About Getting Better Sleep

Now that we all know how sleep deprivation has adverse effects on us, let’s see how we can improve our sleep. Remember 7-9 hours is recommended nightly. You cannot make up for lost sleep on the weekends.

Twelve Tips for Healthy Sleep as recommended by the NIH Medline Plus (Internet)

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This tip is the most important of all twelve!
  2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least thirty minutes on most days but not later than two to three hours before your bedtime.
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Stimulant caffeine can take up to eight hours to wear off. Smokers will often wake up too early in the morning because of nicotine withdrawal.
  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Having a nightcap or alcoholic beverage before sleep may help you relax, but heavy use robs you of REM sleep, keep you in lighter stages of sleep. Alcohol may cause impairment of breathing. And you will tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the effects have worn off.
  5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. Indigestion can interfere with sleep.
  6. If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt sleep. Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure or asthma meds, as well as OTC or herbal remedies for coughs, colds, or allergies, can disrupt sleep patterns.
  7. Don’t take naps after 3 pm. Naps can help make up for lost sleep, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
  8. Relax before bedtime. Don’t over schedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. Reading or listening to music should be a part of your bedtime ritual.
  9. Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help relax you.
  10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom. Get rid of anything in the bedroom that might distract you, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or warm temperatures.
  11. Have the right sunlight exposure. Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Try to get outside in the natural sunlight for at least thirty minutes each day. If possible wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning. Sleep experts recommend that , if you have problems falling asleep, you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.
  12. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than twenty minutes or if you are starting to feel anxious or worried, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

There you go! Lets all get better at sleep! Your health depends on it!

This sleep blog was brought to you by “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, PhD. A great read!

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