Friday, April 22, 2016

Searching For A Good Night's Sleep

Much research has been done on defining adequate sleep and its importance. Although most adults need 7-8 hours, almost a third of all American adults report getting less than 6 hours of sleep nightly, according to a 2014 Center for Disease Control report.

Insufficient sleep has been blamed for many difficulties- from having trouble concentrating at work, to causing motor vehicle crashes and industrial accidents. It has also been shown to be a risk factor for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression, hypertension and obesity.
Besides that, we all just want to sleep well.  Most of us would like nothing better than to lay our heads down to go to sleep and wake up 8 hours later, refreshed.

So, the question is, how to go about getting a good night’s sleep?  The following lists 10 behaviors which have been pretty solidly linked to quality sleep. How many of the following can you answer “YES” to?  If you cannot answer YES, then how can you make some changes to see if it will help you sleep better?  A good night’s sleep is worth the effort!

  1. I do not drink caffeine beverages 4-6 hours before bedtime. (Caffeine in coffee, tea or pop is a stimulant that can keep you awake.)I limit alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 drinks daily and do not drink within 3 hours of bedtime.  (Alcohol may help you get to sleep but after a few hours it acts like a stimulant.)
  2. My bedroom is cool, dark and quiet at night. (the thermostat set below 67°F, no glowing screens like a TV or computer)
  3. I have a regular sleep/wake schedule, and try to stick close to it on the weekends.  (This routine “sets” the body’s clock and improves sleep.)
  4. I do not nap during the day.  (If you need to nap, limit it to 30 minutes, before 5 pm.)
  5. I exercise regularly. (Regular exercise promotes restful sleep.)
  6. I do not eat heavy meals in the evening and I stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  7. My mattress is less than 10 years old.
  8. I spend the last hour before bedtime doing a calming activity like reading. The electronic “blue” light of computer and television screens is activating to the brain and may keep you from sleep.
  9. If awake during the night for more than 20 minutes, I go into another room and do a calming activity until I feel tired again.