Did you know that an estimated third of Americans get less than six hours of sleep a night? While many know that inadequate sleep causes them to struggle the following day, few realize the additional risk they are putting themselves at for developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Sleeping allows our bodies to secrete hormones that process glucose, regulate appetite and metabolism, and keep our blood pressure and weight at healthy levels. The good news for the sleep-deprived third of the population is that small changes in our daily choices can make a big difference in establishing healthy sleep practices and lowering those risks.
Tips for better sleep
1. In the morning – Workout, get out, and interact with people. Exposure to people, natural light and movement trigger your body that it’s time to start your day and strengthen your circadian rhythms and sleep cycle.
2. By 3 pm – Stop drinking caffeine and be careful what you eat, such as too much chocolate. Too much of certain foods and drinks can stimulate you for hours to come.
3. Dinner time – Plan your meal thoughtfully so that you don’t go to bed stuffed or still hungry. Avoiding too much alcohol with dinner also helps.
4. By 8 pm– Turn off your screen and dim bright lights. Darkness stimulates melatonin secretion and triggers our bodies that it’s time to go to sleep. When we watch the bright screens of our TVs or phones too close to bedtime, we confuse our bodies with overexposure to bright lights.
5. Set up your room for success: Sleep in total darkness by using blackout shades or blinds, keep your room cool by using a fan or turning your heat down at night, and consider your personal noise preference – silence, white noise or calming soft music and adjust your room accordingly.
6. Be consistent – Develop a bedtime routine and go to bed and get up around the same time every day. This consistency will help trigger your body that is it time to go to sleep and establish a sleep cycle.
Still having sleep struggles? The experts at Mercy Health can help. Find a doctor near you today.