Sleep Problems

 

Healthy Sleep Basics

Along with nutrition and exercise, sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle. Healthy sleep improves your health and quality of life in a variety of ways:

Healthy sleep is vital for your physical health

It promotes peak performance and productivity. It also helps you fight off infection, maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic diseases. Without healthy sleep you are more likely to have heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Healthy sleep is essential for your mental health

Healthy sleep helps you to balance your mood and emotions. Without healthy sleep you are more likely to struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression.

Healthy sleep improves your memory and focus

It sharpens your mind so that you can think clearly. Sleep helps you excel at school and work. Without healthy sleep you are more likely to be forgetful and make mistakes.

Healthy sleep promotes personal and public safety

It keeps you alert and helps you to react quickly. Without healthy sleep you are more likely to have an accident while driving or at work.

Healthy sleep involves making the right choices to prioritize and protect sleep. Here are three keys to achieving and maintaining healthy sleep:

Quantity

Most adults need at least 7 – 8 hours of nightly sleep for optimal health and productivity. Some people need more sleep to feel well-rested. Try to get 7 or more hours of sleep per night. Set a regular bedtime that is early enough for you to get a full night of sleep.

Quality

Getting good sleep is important, too. Sleeping 7 hours each night isn’t enough: You also need quality sleep. Avoid common sleep disrupters in the evening. These include alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Talk to your doctor if you are taking a medication that disturbs your sleep.

Regularity

It also is important to sleep at the right time. Healthy sleep is part of the daily rhythm of life. Your body sleeps best at night when it is dark. It also functions best when you keep a regular routine. Try to wake up at the same time every morning, and go to bed when you feel sleepy.

Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Maintain a regular sleep routine - Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Ideally, your schedule will remain the same (+/- 20 minutes) every night of the week.
  • Avoid naps if possible - Naps decrease the ‘Sleep Debt’ that is so necessary for easy sleep onset. Each of us needs a certain amount of sleep per 24-hour period. We need that amount, and we don’t need more than that. When we take naps, it decreases the amount of sleep that we need the next night – which may cause sleep fragmentation and difficulty initiating sleep, and may lead to insomnia.
  • Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes - If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get out of bed, and sit in a chair in the dark. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. No TV or internet during these periods! That will just stimulate you more than desired. If this happens several times during the night, that is OK. Just maintain your regular wake time, and try to avoid naps.
  • Don’t watch TV or read in bed - When you watch TV or read in bed, you associate the bed with wakefulness. The bed is reserved for two things – sleep and hanky panky.
  • Do not drink caffeine inappropriately - The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion. Caffeine can fragment sleep, and cause difficulty initiating sleep. If you drink caffeine, use it only before noon. Remember that soda and tea contain caffeine as well.
  • Avoid inappropriate substances that interfere with sleep -Cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter medications may cause fragmented sleep.
  • Exercise regularly – Exercise well before bedtime every day. Exercise promotes continuous sleep.  Avoid rigorous exercise before bedtime. Rigorous exercise circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep.
  • Have a quiet, comfortable bedroom - Set your bedroom thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Generally, a little cooler is better than a little warmer. Turn off the TV and other extraneous noise that may disrupt sleep. Background ‘white noise’ like a fan is OK. Your bedroom should be dark. Turn off bright lights.
  • Have a comfortable mattress.
  • If you are a ‘clock watcher’ at night, hide the clock.
  • Have a comfortable pre-bedtime routine
  • A warm bath, shower
  • Meditation, or quiet time

The quantity, quality and regularity of your sleep can be disrupted if you have a sleep disorder.

Learn more about Sleep and Psychiatric Disorders

Sleep disorders include:

  

Sources: sleepeducation.org; sleepassociation.org; clevelandclinic.org

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency or crisis, please contact our office at (304) 333-3661, campus security at (304) 367-4357, or dial 911 for immediate help.