Sleep Better, Live Better
Sleep is an essential element of wellness. However, research shows that over a third of Americans regularly don't get enough sleep, and over 60% of adults report struggling with sleep problems multiple times per week. With increasing demands on our time and increasing technological distractions, this is unsurprising, but also unsettling because the effects of too little sleep are profound. We all know that lack of sleep affects mood and mental focus-- Any new parent can attest to the brain fog that accompanies sleeplessness. However, less well known is that chronic poor sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression, immune conditions and even decreased sex drive.
While we cannot create more hours in the day, we can modify aspects of our routines to make small changes that can have big impacts on our quantity and quality of sleep. And when we sleep better, we live better!
Tips for Better Sleep:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Our body can "get used" to falling asleep, but only if the time is predictable and consistent.
Limit daytime naps and caffeine. Napping does not make up for inadequate nighttime sleep. However, one short nap of no more than 30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. Limiting Caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime helps the body become primed for sleep.
Get a little exercise. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking or biking, can boost our sleep quality drastically. Take a quick lunchtime walk in the sunshine!
Follow nature's cues. Exposure to natural (sun)light during the day and darkness at night helps to set our normal sleep-wake cycles. This can be as simple as opening the curtains in the morning (or take a morning walk), and keeping lights off or low in the evenings.
Avoid screens for 2-3 hours before bedtime. In busy modern life, this one is tough. However, the research is very clear that bright light and mental stimulation our brains get from tv, tablets, and phones is extremely disruptive to quality sleep. If avoiding technology altogether seems daunting, consider changing your routine just a bit at first. Perhaps try listening to an audiobook, or soothing music as an alternative to scrolling through emails or social media right before bed.
Create a sleep oasis. Your sleep environment should be cool, comfortable and dark. Use blackout shades, set the thermostat to 60-67 degrees, and evaluate if your mattress and pillows feel comfortable. Your bedroom should be a space that feels calm and cozy.
Reserve the bedroom for the 3 S's: Sleep, Sex and Sickness. Avoid using your bed as an office. Instead, train your body that the bed is for the 3 S's only.
In some cases, serious medical conditions are associated with poor sleep. Please consult a healthcare professional if you or a loved one notices any of the following symptoms: Snoring and/or gasping or stopping breathing during sleep (sleep apnea), Waking up with headaches, dry mouth, and/or a sore throat, or Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that may not be real while falling asleep or waking up.
What aspects of your life could change if you were less tired, more mentally focused, happier and healthier? What one small change to your sleep habits can you make today? Write it down. Make it happen. You got this! And if you need a little help or encouragement with establishing or sticking to healthy sleep and exercise routines, our skilled staff is here to help. Sweet dreams!