If you feel like you’re chasing sleep, you’re not alone. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than one in three American adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each evening.
Missing sleep leaves us feeling groggy the next day, but research suggests that there are deeper costs to depriving yourself of those extra Zzz’s.
Losing even an hour of sleep each evening can lead to impaired memory and an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Missing sleep is also associated with higher obesity rates and diagnoses of depression.
If a full night’s sleep eludes you, John Keeley, Clinical Education Specialist for Inspira Health Sleep Centers offers some nighttime lifestyle habits and tips to get better sleep.
If you’re finishing that last episode, checking Twitter or sending a few text messages before bed, you might notice you’re having more trouble getting to sleep. This is due to the blue light that makes all of our digital screens work in the dark, which can mimic sunlight and “wake up” messages to the brain.
Turning off your devices at least an hour before bed will give your eyes and brain a needed break.
John also adds, “Turning the alarm clock around could also help. Not only is this another source of light, but often a source of stress. Seeing what time it is and calculating how much time you have left to get back to sleep can be catastrophic for achieving quality, restorative sleep.”
Our bodies’ systems work best on a constant schedule, rather than a series of shocks, starts and stops. Maintaining a regular bedtime allows your brain to begin producing sleep chemicals like melatonin, preventing a catch-up period when you get into bed.
Going to bed hungry can be disruptive to sleep or aggravate symptoms of conditions like acid reflux. However, eating too close to bedtime can also have a negative effect. Instead, plan your last full meal for at least three hours before bedtime, and choose snacks that won’t aggravate your stomach if you feel hungry.
Getting away from your desk, whether that includes a short walk around the block or a trip to the gym after work, could help burn off excess energy while you wind down at the end of the day. But, similar to your meal planning, it’s important to schedule physical activity two to three hours before bed in order to avoid an end-of-the-day adrenaline rush.
John advises, “Keep in mind, an occasional night of disturbed sleep or daytime fatigue is normal. If it’s a constant or happens for more than a week, make sure to discuss this with your health care provider. You could be dealing with an underlying sleep disorder, like obstructive sleep apnea. A condition that restricts airflow while sleeping, increasing stress hormones and decreasing the likelihood of getting the much-needed deep restorative sleep we all need.”
Have you established good sleeping habits but still find quality sleep elusive? Inspira Health’s Sleep Centers can help. To schedule an appointment with one of our sleep specialists call 1-800-INSPIRA and start getting the rejuvenating sleep your body craves.