As highlighted in the blog post about healthy lifestyle management, sleep is critical to your overall health and well being. For many, sleep is hard to come by. It’s common for people to supplement their sleep with sleep aids, and sometimes they still feel as though they aren’t getting enough sleep or quality sleep.
The solution to most of your sleep issues is simple: better sleep hygiene. Proper sleep hygiene is attainable by creating a sleep structure. The first step is to set a time to wake up in the morning. This time must be consistent throughout the week. Preferably, I recommend the earliest time possible. For example, if you have a weekly meeting that requires you to wake up at seven, wake up at seven every single day. The majority of people need 7-8 hours of sleep. If you are over sixty, it will likely be closer to seven.
You may be asking yourself when you need to go to bed. Work backwards. Once you know what time you are waking up and how much sleep you need to properly function during the day, move backward from the wake-up time. So if you want to wake up at 7 am and would like to get seven hours of sleep, then go to bed at midnight. Wrap up all use of electronics and light sources around thirty minutes before your designated sleep time.
Too much sleep can actually be detrimental, because you will end up waking up sporadically and having a fragmented sleep cycle, so avoid going to bed before the set time. So in the example above, do not go to bed at 10 pm as you will toss and turn for hours before falling asleep. Also, using a sleep monitor like Fitbit will offer a more robust analysis of your sleep quality.
I have a strong preference that patients avoid sleep medication. The goal for people who take chronic sleep medication is the continual weaning and eventual removal of them from your routine. Studies are showing that depressant medicines such as sleep aids may lead to dementia. Further, the artificial slowing of brain function can cause lingering effects during the day such as sluggishness.
Other things to consider to improve poor sleep include testing for sleep apnea, limiting caffeine use to only the morning hours, and avoiding consumption of more than two alcoholic beverages per evening.