Change Your Habits to Change the Quality of Your Sleep
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

Change Your Habits to Change the Quality of Your Sleep

If your nights are filled with anything but sleep, you may be surprised to learn that your behaviors during the day—especially before bedtime—may be to blame. 

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep-related problems. Beyond leaving you feeling sleepy, sleep deficiency can increase your risk of diseases and chronic health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and stroke. Sleep deficiency is also linked to a higher chance of injury in adults, teens, and children.

So, what’s behind America’s sleep issues? The answer is not so simple.

Turns out your habits, age and overall health all have the potential to impact your ability to get a quality night’s sleep. Some of the most common factors that can have a negative effect on your sleep cycle include:

· Stress, such as issues at work, loss of employment, death of a loved one, moving or relationship difficulties

· Environmental factors, such as light, noise, or extreme temperatures

· Physical issues, such as pain from an injury or a health-related issue

· Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety

· Genetics

· Medications

· Diet, including consuming caffeine or alcohol in the evening

· Working the night shift 

· Aging, an estimated 40-70% of older adults have chronic sleep problems

The good news is that, in some cases, just a few adjustments to your daily routine can set you on the path to a solid night’s sleep.  

If you are looking to improve your sleep, try these healthy sleep habits:

· Keep a consistent sleep schedule by getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends and during vacations.

· Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and a time that allows you to get 7-8 hours of sleep.

· Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy.

· If you do not fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet activity elsewhere without a lot of light exposure. NOTE: Do not engage with any electronics, including cellphones, during this time. Return to bed when you feel sleepy.

· Keep your bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature.

· Keep lights dim throughout the evening.

· Unplug from all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

· Avoid eating a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry, opt for a light, healthy snack.

· Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening.

· Avoid consuming alcohol in the hours before bedtime.

· Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

· Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.

· Use your bed only for sleep and sex.

If you are still having trouble falling or staying asleep, contact your doctor for advice or a referral for a sleep study.

 

Disha Geriani, MD specializes in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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