Consistently getting a good night's sleep is as important for your health as good nutrition and exercise. Unfortunately, one in three Americans is chronically sleep deprived. Over time, the effects build up until they cause disease and possibly become life-threatening.
Poor sleep habits are often to blame. We stay up late completing a project or binge watching a new season of our favorite show, and we get up early to get the kids to school. We over-stimulate ourselves with substances and activities.
Learning and practicing good "sleep hygiene" ourselves and teaching it to our children is essential for our health and the health of our families. While good sleep hygiene habits seem like common sense, living them out takes commitment and planning.
Establish a bedtime routine that encourages good sleep. One hour before bedtime, stop using all electronics; avoid eating one hour before bed. Instead, practice relaxation technique like deep breathing, spend 10 to 15 minutes writing down the things you worry about so you can let go of them, or take a warm bath before putting on some comfortable pajamas.
Change up some of your daily habits to help your body and brain fall—and stay—asleep.
Get out into the sun—even in the winter!
Avoid caffeine after noon and alcohol in the evenings.
Aim to get cardiovascular exercise daily.
Create a more "sleepable" bedroom. Make your bedroom as dark as possible and slightly cool. Use comfortable bedding to promote staying asleep, instead of waking to rearrange. If noise, or lack of noise, bothers you, add some white noise to your bedroom. Use your bed for sleeping only, not as an office, workroom or place to watch television. By reserving your bed for sleep, you teach your body to pair going to bed with sleep.
Still can't sleep?
For some, sleep remains an issue, even when practicing good sleep hygiene. Multiple medical and mental health conditions, as well as medications, can inhibit sleep. If you consistently struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep, talk with a physician or another medical professional.
Sometimes sleeping difficulties are connected to stress, depression or anxiety. A mental health specialist can help people change their behaviors and manage the thoughts, feelings and emotions that can interfere with a good night's sleep.
Many Pine Rest providers can help with these issues. Find a professional today.