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Sleep Hygiene

  • Help for Sleep Problems

  • The secret to living a healthy, productive life is pretty simple: get quality sleep. But how do you know if you are sleeping well, and what can you do if you aren’t?

    A large percentage of Americans are sleep deprived, which can limit their ability to function during the day, make it hard to concentrate at work, and make them clumsy, irritable, or have difficulty remembering things. Left untreated, sleep deprivation can even lead to long-term effects such as weight gain and sleep apnea—a sleep disorder in which the brain wakes up when the body pauses too long between breaths during sleep.

    The amount of sleep a person needs varies by the individual. Some people need six to seven hours a night, while others need as much as 10. But everyone requires quality sleep.

  • Getting good sleep

  • Whether you have an irregular sleep schedule, get too little sleep or get too much sleep, the disruptions in your sleeping pattern can alter your body’s production of melatonin – the chemical that helps regulate the circadian rhythm and allows us to sleep – and can cause insomnia or restless sleep.

    The good news is that sleep deprivation can often be corrected by simply adjusting your daily routine:

    • Create a nighttime routine that helps you relax.
    • Turn your bedroom into a sleep oasis.
    • Don’t eat or drink within 3 hours of bedtime.
    • Avoid caffeine after lunch.

    Set an evening routine that allows your body and mind to relax. Winding down about an hour before bedtime is important, so reserve activities such as computer work, watching TV and even work-related reading for early evening.

    Lower the lights when you begin your bedtime routine. Relaxing activities such as listening to calming music, leisure reading and even meditation will encourage the brain to release melatonin and help the body fall and stay asleep.

    Create a soothing sleep environment free of TVs or other devises that emit light. During sleep, even the small amount of light emitted by a nightlight stimulates the brain and disrupts melatonin production.

    Leave cell phones and pagers off and in another room. When you bring them to bed with you, part of your brain expects to be activated at any moment, preventing you from sleeping deeply.

    Avoid eating, exercising and consuming alcohol within three hours of your bedtime, and avoid caffeine after lunchtime. Stimulants take a long time to exit the body and keep the brain awake well into the evening.

    The human body is a machine that thrives on routine. Developing a healthy evening routine can eliminate the need to take sleeping aids or other medications. By working with your body’s natural sleep cycle you can reduce stress, increase productivity and improve your overall health.