Sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health. It can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Yet many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need. Getting a good night's sleep may seem like an impossible task when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize. Just as the way you feel during your waking hours often centers on how well you sleep at night, so the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine.
Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight. But by experimenting with the following tips, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day. Sleep is the body’s recovery period when the body heals and relaxes. Today’s stressful lifestyle can cause sleep problems, and in the long run it can result in health problems. Depression, poor immune function, obesity, increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and decreased sex drive, are all examples of health conditions that can be related to poor sleep habits.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?
Ah, the age-old question. How much sleep does my body really need? According to experts, the magic number is about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Yet many individuals only average five hours per night. Why is this? Age, sex, lifestyle choices – all of these can affect how much sleep we get each night. As we age, our bodies tend to require less sleep than they did when we were younger; recent studies show that women sleep worse than men and tend to experience more symptoms of insomnia, and electronic use right before or at bedtime can affect the quality of your sleep. (Healthfinder.gov)
DO YOU HAVE SLEEP PROBLEMS?
Everyone experiences bad nights’ sleep from time to time, but how can you recognize if you suffer from sleep problems?
You may have sleep problems if:
You have trouble falling asleep at night.
You wake up more than three times a night and have trouble getting back to sleep again.
You wake up an hour earlier in the morning.
You consistently 'oversleep'.
You are not refreshed when you wake up and are drowsy during the day.
The term “sleep hygiene” refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. For individuals who suffer with insomnia, sleep hygiene is an important part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the most effective long-term treatment for people with chronic insomnia. CBT for insomnia can help you address the thoughts and behaviors that prevent you from sleeping well. It also includes techniques for stress reduction, relaxation and sleep schedule management. If you have difficulty sleeping or want to improve your sleep, try following these healthy sleep habits. (NIH.GOV, 2021)
SOME HABITS THAT CAN IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP HEALTH:
Be consistent: go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.
Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
Remember: It is important to aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you experience poor quality sleep despite taking these steps, or you are tired or sleepy on most days, be sure to contact your medical provider.