Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Steps for Sounder Sleep

There's a scientific reason you may feel foggy after a bad night’s sleep: a new study shows sleep scrubs the brain clean, clearing away toxic byproducts that build up when you’re awake. As if you needed another reason to want quality shut-eye every night!

Sleep is so important for many reasons, and unfortunately “sleep debt” and clinical sleep disorders are often unrecognized, untreated, and misdiagnosed in many people. Sleep can be hard to come by when you’re a Mom juggling a long to-do list and worrying for the whole family – an alarming 50% of all sleep disturbances are due to stress. Not to mention hormones during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause can alter sleep.

Sleep requirements are different for everyone, but in general adults need seven to nine hours per night. There are steps you can take to help improve your sleep hygiene and get a better night’s rest:
  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This habit strengthens the biological rhythm and controls the sleep-wake cycle. If bedtimes vary significantly on work nights versus nights off, the body’s rhythms are disrupted, much like jet lag.
  • Don't use the quiet time once the lights are off to rehash the day or plan the next day’s activities, think about bills, or worry about your family. Plan a time earlier in the day or evening to address these concerns.
  • The bedroom should be dark and quiet. Never try to fall asleep with the light or TV on. Draperies, including blackout curtains, help darken the room. Drapes and carpet also serve as sound absorbers. Cool rooms are better for sleeping than warm ones.
  • Avoid alcohol late in the evening, as this aggravates snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Alcohol also causes disturbed sleep during the latter part of the night. No one feels refreshed after drinking too much the night before.
  • Regular exercise helps promote deep sleep, but avoid heavy exercise in the evenings, or it may make it harder to fall asleep.
Remember – sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for good health and well-being. Talk with your doctor if you are not sleeping well or are concerned about having a clinical sleep disorder.

Dr. Margaret Mike is a sleep specialist on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and practices at Margaret E. Mike, MD, Sleep and Wake Center, part of a Texas Health Physicians Group.

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