Learn how to improve your sleep hygiene.
The average American who lives to 80 years old spends 26 years sleeping and another seven years trying to get to sleep. A good night’s sleep can boost your mental and physical health, strengthen your immunity and help you manage your weight – but it’s not easy to get.
There are a number of good sleep habits you can adopt that can help you sleep more soundly and make those 12,045 nights spent in bed more worthwhile. “Most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel well-rested and energized each day,” says Cat Cavotta, a Wellness Coach for White Plains Hospital. “One of the first steps toward better sleep hygiene is to identify the barriers that are keeping you awake as well as making sleep a priority.”
Cavotta says abiding by to a few tips, you’ll be able to give up counting sheep and get more meaningful shut-eye:
Beware of blue light. Exposure to blue light can harm your body’s sleep cycle. “TVs, smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors all emit blue light, which reduces the production of hormones like melatonin, that helps you sleep ,” says Cavotta. “Powering down devices or adding a free, downloadable blue light filter on your phones in the evening will allow your body to start relaxing.”
Don’t fill up on food. The timing of your last meal can affect your sleep. If you’re eating too close to your bedtime you may not sleep as well. “If you’re hungry right before bed, eat a small healthy snack, such as kiwi, cherries, or almonds to satisfy you until breakfast,” says Cavotta. “These foods help trigger the release of melatonin, so sleep won’t be far behind.”
Say ‘No’ to that extra cup of Joe. Too much caffeine will also keep you tossing and turning. Caffeine is a stimulant, so steer clear of coffee, tea, and other sneaky sources—such as chocolate, and even some over-the-counter pain relievers. Many of us live to enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up of coffee or tea, but anything consumed after the early afternoon should be considered bad sleep hygiene.
Don’t stress out. Stress can activate a bevy of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, which increase your heart rate, elevate your blood pressure and boost energy supplies. Adopting a few stress management techniques like aromatherapy, deep breathing or meditation can help. “Stress and anxiety can lead to insomnia and increase your blood pressure or heart rate,” Cavotta says. “Finding ways to decompress in the evening is important, whether its physical activity, reading, yoga, meditating, whatever helps you relax.”
Exercise. People who exercise three times a week or more for 30 minutes have better quality sleep, and are often healthier. Exercise is a natural energy-booster as well, so be sure to get in that workout at least three hours before bedtime.
A factor we often overlook in our quest for quality sleep, Cavotta notes, is our environment. “If you’re tossing and turning at night, it could be something as simple as a worn out pillow or mattress, or a mattress that’s too hard or too soft,” says Cavotta. Room temperature is also important. “Most people like it cooler, so they can curl up under the blankets. And setting up your bedroom so that you’re relaxed is key. Being comfortable will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.”
Having trouble sleeping? To make an appointment for a Sleep Study, call 914-681-2626 or visit the Sleep Center’s Webpage.
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