Happy New Year! Have you made any resolutions yet? As the calendar turns to a fresh page, many of us make a fresh resolve to eat better, do better and be better. But have you ever made a resolution to sleep better? It’s one you may want to consider.
Many people don’t connect the dots between the quality of their sleep and the quality of their overall health. Most adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to maintain good health.
Unfortunately, a number of us aren’t quite measuring up.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of
U.S. adults say they typically get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
And a lack of proper sleep doesn’t just make you feel groggy the next morning.
Besides the feeling of being tired, poor sleeping habits can increase your risk for high blood pressure, elevated stress levels, weight gain, depression, loss of motor skills and poor heart health, and can put you or others in danger when operating motor vehicles or other machinery.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your
sleep habits – without having to count sheep. The National Sleep Foundation
recommends the following tips for better sleep:
Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends
Find a relaxing, nightly bedtime ritual away from bright light, and build
time into your schedule to “wind down” before bed
Create a pro-sleep environment, with a cool air temperature, and minus
the noise, distraction and light that can disrupt your sleep
Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive (If
you’ve had your mattress longer than 10 years, it might be a good idea to
invest in a new one)
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and heavy meals in the evening
You might be
asking, “What about naps?” A good approach to naps is to ensure that they are
in the afternoon and no longer than 20 minutes.
If you’ve tried different tactics and are still having trouble sleeping, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Left untreated, sleep disorders can be very damaging to a person’s overall health.
following four major sleep disorders are common in the U.S., according to the
the inability to initiate or maintain sleep, as well as early morning awakening
and excessive sleepiness throughout the day.
most often characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness combined with sudden
muscle weakness. This muscle weakness often happens in “attacks” triggered by
strong emotion or surprise, and can happen anytime, even during physical
activity like exercise or simply driving your vehicle.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) most often manifests as an unpleasant feeling in the lower
legs, often accompanied by aches and pains. Those who experience RLS typically
have difficulty falling asleep, and may try to relieve their discomfort by
walking or kicking their legs.
Sleep Apnea includes
excessive snoring that is periodically interrupted by gasping or snorting
noises. Without treatment, sleep apnea can cause serious health issues. In
fact, sleep apnea may be a cause of another underlying condition like
congestive heart failure or an obstruction of the nasal passages.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a sleep disorder or are having difficulty maintaining good sleep habits in general, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment for you. Sleep disorders can often be treated with prescription medications, behavioral interventions or, in the case of sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices. Over-the-counter medications do exist for sleep, but you should consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking them.”
For more about good sleep habits, visit sleepfoundation.org or cdc.gov/sleep. If you’d like to speak with a healthcare provider about your sleep difficulties, UP Health System can help. Call 844.411.UPHS or visit the “Find a Doctor/Provider tab at http://www.mgh.org/find-a-doctor to get connected with care to help you sleep better.