Getting enough sleep is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it may be just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
“Not only does a good night’s sleep help you get through your day with more energy and focus, but sleeping well can help you stay healthier overall,” said Ted Bradshaw with Maury Regional Sleep Centers.
Take this quiz to determine the daily and nighttime habits that may help you sleep better.
Spending more time outdoors during the day helps you fall asleep faster.
Natural sunlight keeps your circadian rhythm in check. This helps your body know when it's time to be awake and when it's time to sleep. If you can't get enough natural sunlight, artificial bright light may do the trick. Research shows that exposure to bright light during daytime hours reduced the time it took for people with insomnia to fall asleep by 83%.
Having an evening drink or two helps you sleep better.
Although you may think alcohol helps you relax so you'll sleep better, it actually has a negative effect on sleep. Alcohol alters your production of melatonin, which can affect sleep. It has also been shown to increase snoring and sleep apnea, which disrupt sleep quality.
Getting more exercise will help you sleep.
Numerous studies have shown that exercising during the day can help you sleep better at night. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of insomnia, lessen the time it takes to fall asleep, help you stay asleep and increase total sleep time. Just don't work out too close to bedtime (within 3 hours) because exercise's stimulating effects may make it harder to fall asleep soon after you're done.
Sleeping later on weekends is a great way to catch up on missed sleep.
Although it's tempting to catch up on missed sleep on days when you don't have such a busy schedule, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. Changing the times you go to bed or wake up may reduce sleep quality over time. Try to get into a habit of going to sleep and waking at around the same time every day.
Making changes to your sleep environment may improve sleep quality.
Various aspects of your sleeping environment may be impacting your sleep quality. Take steps to minimize external noise. Try to reduce the amount of artificial light, such as that coming from clocks or computers. Set the thermostat to a comfortable sleeping temperature.
Sleep studies assist in diagnosing a variety of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, insomnia and sleepwalking. Sleep studies may be recommended for those who regularly experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Difficulty falling asleep
Waking frequently and struggling to return to sleep
Feeling tired, irritable or having trouble concentrating throughout the day
Waking up gasping for breath
Kicking or jerking while asleep
Difficulty staying awake while watching TV or reading
Maury Regional Health Sleep Centers in Columbia, Lewisburg, Waynesboro and Lawrenceburg conduct sleep studies for adults and children with a physician referral. During a sleep study, a patient is monitored with devices that record heart rate, snoring, airflow, oxygen levels, brain waves and movement in the muscles and eyes. Data from the sleep study is interpreted by a board-certified sleep medicine physician.
For more information about a sleep study, ask your physician or call 931.490. REST.
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Date Last Reviewed: November 6, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor