Healthy Sleep Habits
If you wake up tired most mornings, you’re not alone. From tossing and turning all night to insomnia and other sleep disorders, there are many reasons you could be waking up without the deep, restorative sleep you need to be your best. While some of these may be out of your control, there are ways to improve your sleep.
As adults, we need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night, which can be hard to achieve with our busy lifestyles. Children need even more – as much as 12 hours each night. Many people shrug off sleep, thinking that making time for sleep isn’t a priority. In doing so, we risk building up a long-term debt of sleep, which can negatively affect your overall health. In fact, not getting enough regular sleep can steal your mental focus, weaken your immune system and even make learning and memory more difficult. It can also put you at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. The fatigue that can result from insufficient sleep can also put us at risk for car crashes and other accidents, resulting in injury or even death.
For this reason, it’s important to establish a strong sleep routine by practicing several healthy sleep habits:
Abide by a schedule. Getting good sleep at night starts in the morning. By waking up the same time each day, you can essentially program your internal body clock for the sleep it needs each night. Oversleeping can make it difficult to fall asleep the next night. By sticking to a schedule every day, even weekends, you can experience more predictable and restful sleep.
Eat and drink for good sleep. Eating light and healthy dinner-time meals can help you avoid upset stomach and bloating that can disrupt a good night’s sleep. Avoiding caffeine after 2:00 p.m. and restricting alcohol can also help ensure you’ll get restful sleep. The nicotine in tobacco products can also interfere with sleep, so add good sleep to your list of reasons to stop this habit.
Limit naps. Most healthy people don’t need regular naps, but if you find yourself needing a daytime snooze, set an alarm to get up in an hour or less. Taking long naps during the day can disrupt nighttime sleep. If you do nap, try to squeeze it in by early afternoon.
Get exercise. Regular physical activity has many health benefits – including its ability to help you get better sleep. Just be sure to exercise in the morning or no later than early evening because exercising too late in the day can release endorphins and elevate your body temperature, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Manage stress. As you lie down to sleep, the last thing you need is to let your mind race over your worries. Make time each day to decompress, whether by journaling, engaging in a favorite hobby, meditating or listening to relaxing music. If you need help to manage stress, enlist the assistance of a mental health provider.
Wind down. In addition to managing stress throughout the day, create a pre-bedtime ritual to help you unwind from your day. Dim the lights, turn off electronics and do something relaxing. During this time, avoid drinking fluids to ensure you don’t have to get out of bed for overnight trips to the bathroom.
Set the stage for sleep. In other words, create a relaxing environment for sleeping. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool. If needed, outfit your room with darkening blinds, a fan and anything else you need to be as comfortable as possible. Remove distractions, such as televisions, from your bedroom, and reserve this space for only sleep and intimacy – not for work or screentime.
Poor or insufficient sleep is not an emergency, but it can result in one. If you’re experiencing chronically poor sleep, we urge you to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or a sleep specialist who can evaluate you and determine whether you have any serious sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. While we love caring for patients here at Avail Hospital, we’d rather you avoid medical emergencies, live healthy and sleep well.