Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting Enough Sleep Shouldn’t be a Dream

     Sleep is one thing that most Americans feel that they don’t get enough of. With work, school, children, and a never ending to-do list, it’s no wonder that most people feel as if getting consistent, proper rest is an aspirational goal, but certainly not a realistic one.

With the end of daylight savings time, and the loss of an hour of much-needed sleep, many adults who already feel sleep deprived have a harder time adjusting.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. Getting proper sleep helps to improve attentiveness, maintain a healthy weight, and helps to lower stress and improve mood.

Most adults average between five to seven hours of sleep each night. When lack of sleep accumulates over a period of time, a “sleep-debt” is accrued. A few days of not getting enough sleep is not a major cause for concern, but over an extended period of time, a continued sleep-debt can put people at risk of health problems such as high-blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

It’s not just physiological issues either. Sleep-loss contributes to motor vehicle accidents, loss of productivity at work, and can negatively impact personal and professional relationships.

While trying to juggle life’s challenges and getting enough sleep is difficult, there are some things that you can do that can help.

Tips for Better Sleep
  • Eliminate Caffeine- Caffeine, which is a stimulant, can stay in the system for up to 12 hours. It is recommended to stop drinking caffeinated beverages at lunch-time. After that, stick to caffeine-free. 
  • Cut-off Time- Exercise increases your heart rate, and gets your blood pumping. That is what you need in the morning to get your day started, but not in the evening. It is recommended to cut exercise off four to six hours before going to bed.
  • Develop a Routine- Whether it be meditation before bed, reading for 10 to 15 minutes, or taking a hot bubble-bath before bed each night, developing a routine tells your body that it is time to wind-down and prepare to rest.
  • Establish a Bedtime- While it may seem a juvenile, try to go to bed at the same time each day, give-or-take an hour. This includes weekends. Keeping your body on a routine sleep schedule helps your body to know when it should be awake, and when it needs to be asleep. 
  • Create a Conducive Environment- Make sure that your bedroom is comfortable, quiet, dark, and temperature controlled. Small things like changing your bed linens regularly, placing a fan by your bed, or sleeping with a mask to block out light can make a difference in ones’ quality of sleep.

By utilizing these tips, getting a good night’s sleep will no longer be a dream.

By Mark H. Russ

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