HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Have you ever struggled to get to sleep? Or fallen asleep, only to wake up in the middle of the night? Are you jealous of the person who says, “I only need four hours of sleep and I’m good to go!” A good night’s sleep has important health benefits and the lack of good sleep can actually be dangerous. We’re here to help you get the sleep you need.
WHY YOU NEED “GOOD” SLEEP
People need varying amounts of sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours, although some need more and others need less than this. The person, who claims to need only four hours per night, is very rare. To see how much sleep you need, try not setting your alarm when on vacation. After several days, you’ll know your body has set itself into its natural circadian (biological) rhythm if you can fall asleep gradually and wake up refreshed. Those who fall asleep “like a rock” are most likely sleep deprived.
The National Institute of Health did a study on the definition of “good” sleep and came to the general conclusion that good sleep is when people feel rested and restored on waking and have few awakenings during the night. An awakening can be simple restless tossing and turning, or getting up to go to the bathroom.
A LACK OF GOOD SLEEP HAS
AN IMPACT ON YOUR HEALTH.
IT CAN CAUSE
One study showed that lack of sleep was a bigger contributor to childhood obesity than any other factor.
- Suppressed immune system leading to more colds and flu
- Chronic sleep deprivation linked to things like heart attack, stroke and diabetes
- Insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes
- Degradation of memory and eye-hand coordination
- Obesity in both adults and children.
ON THE POSITIVE SIDE, GOOD SLEEP HAS SEVERAL HEALTH BENEFITS.
- Better health, clearer thinking, better weight control, better memory and immune system. (See above.)
- Your sex life improves when you’re not “too tired.” This seems to be truer for men.
- Less chronic pain such as backaches.
- Reduced risk of injury. You’ve seen some medication warnings to “not operate heavy machinery” when taking certain pills. Sleep deprivation has a similar impact and can leave you at risk for injury.
- Better mood. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a jolly person, but rather that you are able to navigate the daily bumps in the road without having a meltdown.
HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
When considering a good night’s sleep, there are a number of activities or actions to avoid, as well as those to add to your bedtime routine and healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes sleep disturbances are reasons to see the doctor. Excessive snoring and night sweats for example, may be
- Avoid alcohol. It is a myth that alcohol helps you unwind and sleep better. Alcohol is actually a sleep disrupter. Alcohol with dinner will most likely be metabolized, but alcohol close to bedtime is a bad idea.
- Avoid “white screen” time for at least one-half hour before bedtime. This includes cell phones, iPads, television, eReaders and other white screens that confuse your body’s circadian (biological) rhythms. Numerous studies show that light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels.
- Be active. Exercise is good for you and will help you sleep better; however, high activity right before bedtime could rev you up and make it harder to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine has a long half-life and is still being absorbed 12 hours after ingestion. Keep in mind that some energy drinks have more caffeine than does coffee. Read labels carefully.
- Listen to a lullaby. You don’t have to listen to Brahms, however studies show that music with a slow gentle rhythm can promote sleepiness.
- Read a book. Or a magazine – but only the paper kind. Reading can help you wind down, as long as it isn’t a thriller!
- Get out of bed. This may sound strange, but when you’re tossing and turning and trying to sleep (or get back to sleep) you could be making yourself anxious. Instead, get out of bed, and go sit in another dark room until you feel drowsy. Then go back to bed.
- Turn down the thermostat. Sleeping in a cool room is more restful. Your body will generate the heat it needs under the sheets or blankets.
- Charge your cell phone in another room. Don’t tempt yourself with white screen time. Use an actual alarm for your alarm, not your smart phone. While you’re at it, consider an old-school alarm clock with hands. A digital clock can keep you awake as you wait for the digits to change.
- Don’t sleep with animals. We’re not talking about your spouse. We’re talking about dogs and cats which have sleep patterns of their own which can interfere with yours. Sorry, but Fluffy and Phydeaux should sleep somewhere else.
signs of a serious medical issue.