According to statistics, 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. Many individuals get less than five hours of sleep each night. And it is probably no surprise that percentage-wise, teens are perhaps the most sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation not only poses a threat to you, but to others as well. Every year, fatigued drivers alone are responsible for many lost lives. Sleep deprivation (less than six hours per night) not only leaves you cognitively impaired, but it also has been linked to other health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, anxiety disorders, and depression. Although you may not be able to control all factors that interfere with sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep.
Tips on How to Sleep Better:
- Stick to a sleep schedule – go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol multiple hours before sleep time – the stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. Although alcohol may seem to initially help to induce sleep, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
- Sleep in a dark room – our melatonin (a hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps control your sleep and wake cycles) production is disrupted unless we sleep in total darkness. Try using blackout shades or eye masks.
- Lower temperature in bedroom – studies have shown that optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60-68 degrees F.
- Avoid TV or computers an hour before bedtime – research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep as these devices will interfere with normal melatonin secretion.
- Be sure you are comfortable – choose the mattress and pillows that are most comfortable to you. Also consider putting limits on children and pets sleeping with you.
- When possible, get some sun exposure – ten to fifteen minutes of morning sun will help reset your internal clock OR take a walk outdoors for 30-60 minutes at mid-afternoon or the brightest time of day.
- Avoid electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) in your bedroom – EMF’s are another melatonin disruptor and may also have other negative effects on our bodies.
- Take a hot bath before bedtime – altering core body temperature from hot to cold lets your body know it’s time to go to sleep.
- If a night light is needed, use a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb – these types of light bandwidths do not interfere with our melatonin production.
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