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A Guide to Restful Sleep for Better Sleep Month

05-21-2019

May is Better Sleep Month, which is an entire month dedicated to encouraging people to develop better sleep habits to achieve restful, rejuvenating sleep. This important initiative is supported by the Better Sleep Council, an institution that is focused on raising awareness about how poor sleep disturbs our lives and how high-quality sleep can improve it.

Why Sleep is Important

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep at the right time can help protect mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. During sleep, the body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

Common Sleep Issues

According to the American Sleep Association, over 50 million people have a sleep disorder, 37 percent of 20-39-year-olds report short sleep duration, and over 35 percent of adults report they receive less than seven hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can cause harm over time. Here are the most commonly reported sleep issues:

  • Trouble falling and staying asleep
  • Not feeling rested upon waking up
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Low appetite
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Itching skin while falling sleep

Tips for Restful Sleep

Studies have shown that developing healthy sleep habits can improve quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good sleep hygiene. Implement these tips to help develop good sleep hygiene:

Don’t eat or drink too much before going to sleep

Cutting out eating and drinking, especially sugary foods and caffeinated drinks, right before going to sleep will help to sustain a longer, more peaceful night’s sleep. Eating or drinking before falling asleep can cause an upset stomach, multiple overnight bathroom trips, weight gain by consuming calories and not giving the body an opportunity to burn them off, and insomnia. When creating a bedtime routine, establish a “cutoff point” in the evening for food and drinks to promote healthier sleep hygiene.

Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it

Creating a bedtime routine helps to tell the brain when it’s time to sleep. Giving the brain that cue is a significant factor in achieving restful sleep each night as an active brain will prevent the body from resting and relaxing. To create a bedtime routine, think about things that bring you peace and relaxation, such as reading a book, meditating, taking a soothing bath, etc., and do those things on a nightly basis before going to bed. When this routine becomes habitual, it will let your brain know that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Create a peaceful sleeping environment

The bedroom should be a dedicated place for rest and relaxation. Taking the time to make the bedroom a sleep sanctuary will pay off big time when it comes to getting better sleep. Consider removing things like a work desk, exercise equipment, TV, and anything else that can distract you from sleep. Also, ensure that the window blinds or curtains block out light appropriately, the temperature of the room is where you like it, and the bed and pillows promote restful sleep.

Reduce daytime napping

Sleeping during the day can be a necessity, but too much of it can prevent restful sleep at night. If napping is needed, set parameters for yourself like no napping late in the day, keeping naps to under one hour, and removing distractions when trying to nap.

Clear the mind before going to bed

A common problem for people is trying to fall asleep when they have a lot on their mind. When the brain is active, it’s difficult to tell it to stop and go to sleep. Journaling, meditating, drawing, talking out a problem or an idea, or anything else that can help the mind rest should be added to the bedtime routine.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep and overall health. According to this study, seniors that exercised regularly noted that the amount of time it takes to fall asleep was reduced by nearly 50 percent and that they received an additional 41 minutes of sleep per night. While exercising helps promote healthier sleep, exercising too late in the day can actually keep people awake due to the adrenaline that is created during exercising.

Take part in Better Sleep Month on social media by sharing your tried and true tips for getting a good night’s sleep by using the hashtag #BSCSleepTips.

For more information on sleep tips, sleeping disorders, or general sleep hygiene, visit our Sleep Studies page, or contact our Sleep Center by calling 240-566-3802.