Many health experts argue that sleep is the cornerstone of health. It’s just as imperative for good health as exercise and diet. Studies show inadequate quality of sleep on a regular bases raises risks for many chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, as well as anxiety and depression.
As we are winding down the summer, you may have noticed some sleep disruption. Believe it or not, summer months are difficult sleep-wise for many. As if the heat weren’t enough, increased daylight hours, seasonal allergies, and disrupted schedules due to school being out and summer vacations all contribute to sleep disruption. As we prepare for fall and the beginning of a new school year, it’s important to address better sleep routines.
Here are some common sleep tips to help establish healthy routines:
1. Power off electronics. We are surrounded by electronics. Laptops, iPads, smartphones, tablets, and TVs should all be turned off and put aside an hour or so before our desired sleep time. It has been documented that blue light is emitted by these devices and interferes with production of melatonin, an intrinsic hormone we have that regulates our sleep and circadian rhythms.
2. Sleep in a cool and dark room. Make sure your bedroom is cool with a source of circulation in the air, like a fan, an open window, or air conditioning. Some researchers feel that the optimum temperature for sleep is around 68 degrees F. In addition to a cool room, be sure your room is dark and quiet. Black out curtains, eye masks, and noise machines can help.
3. Consistent bedtime. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps to reinforce the sleep-wake cycle. Try to keep this time consistent within a half hour or so each night. Experts recommend getting to bed around 10pm to protect specific parts of our sleep cycle, especially our Delta cycle and REM cycle. These sleep cycles help detox our cells, protect our immune system, increase energy storages, and help regulate our moods.
4. Bedtime routine matters. It’s important to establish bedtime routines that involve relaxing activities to signal to our body and mind that it’s time for sleep. Relaxing activity such as warm bath, a hot shower, reading a book, stretching, listening to music or sounds in nature, can all help. It’s also important to avoid strenuous exercise or increased cardiovascular activity after 6pm.
5. Avoid stimulants. Avoid caffeine such as coffee, tea, or other beverages in the evening. It’s best to reduce caffeine altogether, but definitely avoid it after 2-3pm in the afternoon. Herbal teas such as Chamomile, Valerian, Kava, and other sleep-promoting teas are okay in the evening. Medications can also interfere with sleep especially if they are stimulants. Be sure to let your provider know if you are having difficulty with sleep and are also taking medications such as Effexor, Strattera, Wellbutrin or medications like Adderall or Ritalin. Avoid stimulating activity before bed such as strenuous exercise, emotional conversations, or viewing upsetting television such as violent TV shows or the news.
6. Consider sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a common medical condition and should be considered if have you are having difficulty with sleep especially if you have associated symptoms of such as brain fog, headaches, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Please let your healthcare provider be aware if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
If you or someone you know is having consistent difficulty with sleep, Tranquil Healthcare integrative medicine for mental health and wellness can help diagnose possible causes and underlying issues, and offer solutions for better sleep and health. Please email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.