WIKY Wants You To Know Sleep Month
WIKY, 21st Century Healthcare and Bobby Wilson Furniture want you to know how to get a better night's sleep! Many people don't get enough sleep or a good night's sleep each day, and it's important to get enough sleep to help you have energy, and be overall healthy!
How To Get A Great Night's Sleep
Roy M. Arnold, MD
More sleep, better sleep. That’s what we all want. Do you have to boost your energy level during the day with caffeine? Do you have trouble falling asleep or trouble waking up when it’s time? Do you have to sleep late or nap on weekends? You can sleep sounder and wake up feeling more refreshed without the use of artificial sleep aids or drugs. This article can tell you how.
An important first step to determining causes of poor sleep habits is to keep a sleep diary for a week. By carefully recording information about your sleep patterns, you may be able to identify ways to improve your sleep. Every day, record the time you went to bed and the time you woke up. Record how long you slept and how restful it was. Make a note of how many times you awakened throughout each night and for what reason (bathroom, noise, cold, hot, etc.) Note how much caffeine you consumed each day and at what times. Record what time and what you ate and drank before retiring each night. Make a note of stress factors that were active in your life each day.
At the end of the week, review the results and identify what factors if any can be corrected by lifestyle changes.
Here are a few tips to help you get more refreshing sleep:
- Make certain your sleep environment is at a comfortable temperature, dark enough and quiet. If necessary, add blinds or curtains, or a white noise machine to block out sounds from outside. Add or remove quilts or blankets as the seasons change to keep cool or warm as necessary.
- Eating a large meal with high fat or protein content, drinking alcohol or caffeine-containing beverages within 4 hours of retiring can disrupt your sleep. Keep your fluid intake low after 8 pm and if you must eat, try a light snack containing dairy, nuts, or bananas. These foods are higher in tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep.
- Certain medications, vitamins or supplements can disrupt sleep if taken close to bedtime. Medications like steroids for asthma, Beta blockers for high blood pressure or diuretics for fluid retention can sometimes disturb sleep. Vitamins B6 or B12 can cause vivid dreaming in some people and should be taken in the morning. Supplements like gensing or guarana are stimulants and can keep you awake.
- Don’t go to bed exhausted or stressed out. Exhaustion or stress can release chemicals into your blood that interfere with sleep. Sit quietly and decompress for 10-15 minutes before retiring after an exhausting or stressful day. If stress or grief is a major factor in your life, consider seeing a counselor to learn about effective ways to manage your life’s challenges.
- Try going to bed at the same time every night, not waiting until you get sleepy. If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t toss and turn. Get up and read, watch a relaxing TV show or listen to soft music.
- Take a bubble bath, or warm shower before retiring.
- Pets in your bed can disturb your sleep. In a recent survey 53% of people who sleep with pets said their pets often disturb their sleep. Let the pets sleep on the floor or in their own beds.
- Undiagnosed Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can cause you wake up frequently coughing or choking. If you experience these symptoms you could be suffering from undiagnosed GERD. Your health care provider can sort these problems out.
- Is disruptive sleeping by your partner keeping you awake? If your sleeping partner snores, has vivid dreams or limb movement, this can disrupt your sleep.
- Start an exercise program. Try to work out in the mornings or over your lunch break. Exercise can contribute to overall health and well-being but exercise performed right before bedtime can sometimes disrupt sleep.
Certain types of sleep-related behaviors may signal a more serious problem and should be discussed with your health care provider. These include very loud snoring, breathing pauses during sleep, limb movements during sleep, hallucinations while falling asleep or waking up, sleep walking, sleep eating or other bizarre behaviors while asleep, or inappropriate daytime sleepiness. While any one of these may not necessarily be dangerous, they certainly merit further evaluation.
Sleep disorders such as sleep-disordered breathing, or narcolepsy can be diagnosed through a sleep study or other testing and can be successfully treated with medication or continuous positive airway (CPAP) devices worn during sleep.
The above are a few suggestions that often help most people fall asleep faster and awake more rested. They certainly aren’t the only answers. If poor sleep continues to be a problem, by all means consult your primary health provider.
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How Do You Know If You Are Getting Enough Sleep?
Everyone has heard that the ideal amount of sleep is 8 hours every night. The truth is everyone is different. Some people function just fine on as little as 4-5 hours of sleep. On the other hand, there are just as many people out there who sleep 9-10 hours every night. So knowing how much sleep you need as an individual is the most important factor in determining if you are or aren’t getting enough sleep.
How much sleep are you getting now?
The first step is to determine exactly how much sleep you are currently getting. Most people tend to think, “I lay down to go to sleep at this time and I wake up at this time, so I got this amount of sleep.” It’s not that simple, as there’s the time it takes you to fall asleep and it also does not count the number of times you wake up or amount of time you were awake before going back to sleep. Once you factor that time in, the 8 hours you thought you got may be more like 6 or 7 hours.
Is it enough sleep for you?
There’s a short test you can take that will determine if you are getting less than your ideal amount of sleep. Ask yourself the following questions; Do I need an alarm clock to wake up at the right time? Do I have trouble getting out of bed every morning? Do I get tired quickly when driving? Do I have trouble remembering things or concentrating? Do I fall asleep as soon as I lay down to go to bed? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you are not getting enough sleep.
Determine if you are getting enough sleep.
On average most people need to get another hour to an hour and a half more sleep than they are currently getting. You can determine this by going to bed around a time you normally can fall asleep that is close to 8 hours before you need to be up. Stick to going to bed around this time and take note of when you wake up. You may wake up early for a few days because you are used to the shorter sleeping schedule, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you will begin to sleep longer. Once you start sleeping longer start going to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week, then 15 minutes earlier the next week. Keep adding 15 minutes a week until you are able to wake up when you need to and have energy through the whole day. You can also make sure you have the correct amount of sleep each night by going to bed 15-30 minutes late one night, and see if you feel drowsy the next day, if you do, you know you are getting the right amount of sleep.1
1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.