Are you getting enough sleep?
Approximately one-third of adults in the United States report not getting enough sleep. Insufficient sleep can lead to a number of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Refreshing sleep is not a luxury, it is necessary to your health! Adults should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Not getting enough? Want to sleep better? You may need to improve your sleep habits.
What is keeping us from getting enough sleep?
There are numerous factors that play a role in the quantity and quality of sleep that we get.
Common sleep disorders include
- Insomnia which is the inability to initiate or maintain sleep. It may also manifest as waking several hours early and being unable to resume sleeping. Insomnia requires diagnosis by a medical provider and can be treated with medications and behavioral techniques. Many drugs used to treat insomnia are not meant to be taken long term.
- Restless leg syndrome is associated with a “creeping” sensation that starts in the lower legs and can cause aches and pains that hinder sleep. Medications are available to treat this.
- With sleep apnea, a person will have interruptions in their breathing at night due to an obstruction of the airway. Snoring is a common symptom. Sleep apnea is usually treated with gentle continuous air pressure via a mask during sleep. Sleep apnea should be taken seriously as the effects can cause major health complications. Diagnosis is typically made using measurement of blood oxygen levels during sleep.
There are also a number of lifestyle-related factors that interfere with our sleep such as caffeine, alcohol, timing of exercise, electronic devices, etc.
Tips for better sleep
- Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If you work during the week, try not to sleep in longer than one hour on the weekends.
- Avoid large meals and alcohol before bed. Your stomach will be working hard to digest food making it harder to go to sleep.
- Avoid use of caffeine within 8 hours of your planned bedtime.
- Get some exercise during the day. Being physically active during the day can help you sleep better at night. However, do not exercise too close to bedtime.
- Try to avoid electronic devices (phones, tablets, televisions, computers) one hour before bedtime. This is hard, I know! But, the light given off by these devices program our brains to stay awake.
- Establish a bedtime routine (warm tea, hot bath) to wind down and get ready for sleep.
- Try to limit naps during the day
If you still have trouble sleeping, keep a sleep journal with sleep and wake times, naps, and alcohol and caffeine use throughout the day. Show this to your primary care provider who can help uncover cause of insomnia.
Hope everyone sleeps well tonight! Nothing feels better than a refreshing night of sleep.
Disclaimer: Information contained in this post should not be substituted for medical advice. If you think you are having a problem, contact your own provider who knows your health history.
If anyone has any questions or would like for me to discuss a particular health topic, please feel free to comment below or send me a message! Thank you!