By Joe Granato, RPSGT/RST | Assistant Director ARMC Sleep Disorders Center
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your body’s good health — both mentally and physically. Practicing good sleep hygiene techniques will provide you with good quality of life and will keep you safe.
Sleep deficiency can put you at risk by promoting health problems. Sleep deprivation can slow your thinking and your react time. Subsequently, your work will begin to suffer because you will slow down. When you are tired and sleep deprived you are unable to learn well, comprehension of what you hear may suffer and you may make poor decisions.
What Causes Sleep Interruptions?
Things that can interfere with a good night’s sleep are pressures at work, lay-offs, family responsibilities, relationship issues, and illness.
Computer use before bedtime can induce stress and give you an adrenaline rush. As you become stressed, your body can go into a “fight or flight” response, which releases cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland. When left on, the light and sound of a TV might make your brain think it is time to wake up and will make it difficult to fall back asleep.
Looking at your cell phone and reading messages or sending messages can raise your stress levels. Negative email messages can promote anger and cause an adrenaline rush as well. Texting, emailing, and searching the internet can be very frustrating and challenging. Using this technology prior to sleep can induce insomnia, restlessness or in some instances nightmares.
Good Sleep Hygiene Techniques
- Avoid technology for 15-30 minutes prior to bed.
- The television in your room or the kids room should be off.
- Stick to the same schedule every day, including weekends, holidays and days off.
- When you lie down and do not fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing, but remember that electronics cause stress and can cause a melatonin delay.
- Don’t go to bed hungry or “stuffed.”
- Limit drinks before bed, especially drinks that have sugar or caffeine.
- Nicotine is a stimulant and can take hours to wear off.
- Alcohol can make you sleepy at first but can get you up later because it can make you sweat or have to go the bathroom multiple times.
- Avoid long naps especially in the afternoon. A short power-nap is great but too long a nap can interfere with your circadian rhythm.
Following these simple suggestions will ensure your body has the best possible state and environment conducive to restful sleep.