This week is National Sleep Awareness Week (March 2-8), an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and overall well-being. Getting enough quality sleep can protect your mental and physical health and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Unfortunately, many Americans suffer from a sleep deficiency. In fact, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic, with eight out of ten Americans admitting they would feel better and more prepared for the day if they could sleep an extra hour during the night. Moreover, more than half of Americans (55 percent, according to the NSF) feel there is not enough time in the day to get the right amount of sleep.
To improve healthy sleep habits, or “health hygiene,” try the following:
Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
Being consistent with your sleep schedule helps regulate your body clock.
Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
This is probably the hardest to follow, especially on a lazy, rainy Saturday afternoon. While napping may help you get through the day, a late afternoon nap can easily leave you too energized for bed, so try to avoid if possible.
Evaluate your room.
Your room should be designed and climatized for your optimal sleep. Your bedroom should be cool––between 60-67 degrees––and be free of any noise that could disturb you. If too much light––natural or artificial––is an issue, consider blackout curtains, eyeshades and earplugs if your partner is a snorer.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and heavy meals in the evening.
Too much alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can cause abnormal sleep habits and prevent you from falling asleep. Eating big, spicy meals can cause indigestion, which can disrupt sleep as well. Your biggest meals should be breakfast and lunch, or more than three hours before you plan on going to sleep.
Don’t force it.
If you can’t sleep, don’t lay there for hours willing yourself into a REM state; go into another room and try to relax. Turn on the television or trying reading a book until you feel tired enough to go back to bed. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Our tolerance for sleeping on floors, couches and uncomfortable mattresses seems to wane by the day as we age. Make sure your mattress and pillows are supportive and inviting for sleep. Spending a little extra money for comfortable bedding can make all the difference.
Sleep is anything but a waste of time and getting enough is crucial to your health in the same way that eating healthily and exercising regularly are.
If you find that you’re having trouble sleeping, or your health is affected by poor sleep, do not hesitate to consult a physician or sleep professional.
Contact Michigan Urgent Care for health services provided and ten locations across Southeast Michigan.