Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a vital part of our daily routines, and it can affect many aspects of our lives, such as productivity and concentration, our emotions, immune system and more. Getting enough rest is especially important for our overall physical health, in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, obesity, stroke, dementia, cancer and depression, among others.
Remember, the CDC recommends that adults get seven or more hours of sleep each night.
Here are some tips recommended by the CDC to help you prioritize sleep health:
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, weekends included.
Following a strict sleep schedule is important when regulating our body’s internal clock, also known as a circadian rhythm, a biological mechanism that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Consistency in your sleep schedule will help reinforce your circadian rhythm, which ultimately supports healthy digestion, immunity and quality sleep – sleep that is restful and restorative.
2. Remove all distracting electronic devices from the bedroom.
Using electronics in bed has quickly become a habit for many people. In a recent study, 70 percent of participants used electronic devices in their bedroom or in bed, even though using technology at night has been found to interfere with the quantity and quality of sleep. The reason technology interferes with sleep is because these devices emit blue light, which is found to reduce or delay our natural production of melatonin in the evening and decreases natural feelings of sleepiness.
The Sleep Foundation suggests these tips to help you keep your bedroom technology-free:
- Create a dedicated space for electronics outside of the bedroom.
- Develop a new bedtime routine that doesn’t involve watching TV or scrolling on your phone. Instead, try stretching or reading a book in dim light.
3. Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bed.
The foods and beverages you consume before bed may interfere with sleep health, which is why it is important to be mindful of your consumption prior to sleep.
- The Sleep Foundation says that overeating can cause discomfort, which may affect your ability to fall asleep. If you eat a large meal at night, it is best to do so two to three hours before you plan to sleep, as this will give your body ample time to digest comfortably.
- Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can affect the onset of sleep and reduce total sleep time and sleep efficiency, according to this meta-analysis.
- Alcohol can cause sleep disruptions throughout the night, decrease sleep quality and increase the risk of developing a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. In one meta-analysis, it was found that alcohol increases the risk of sleep apnea by 25 percent.
4. Stay active during the day to help you fall asleep at night.
Engaging in physical activity during the day is not only great for your mind and body, but it can also help you get a good night’s rest. According to John Hopkins Medicine, people who engage in just 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may notice a difference in sleep quality that same night. Additionally, one study revealed that moderate physical exercise is beneficial to sleep quality in both younger and older adults.
Adopting healthy sleep habits can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, improving your overall sleep health. In some cases, a few adjustments in your daily routine can mean the difference between a restless night and sound sleep. If you’re experiencing sleep problems, talk to your healthcare provider. For more information, visit bchd.org/sleep.