The Skinny on Getting Good Sleep

Necessary for all, but elusive for some, sleep is a powerful driver of our overall health. Most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep to recharge. Inadequate sleep, either in quality or quantity, negatively affects our mental capacity, mood, hormone balance, and much more. If you find it difficult to sleep well, the following tips are for you.

Limit Alcohol. Though it makes us drowsy, alcohol decreases the quality of our sleep. The recommendation for women is no more than 1 drink per day or 7 drinks per week, on average, to reduce the risk of harm based on alcohol intake. To improve sleep quality, avoid drinking daily or within 2 hours of bedtime, and avoid more than 1-2 drinks at a time. 

Limit caffeine. Is it any surprise the morning pick-me-up can contribute to sleep issues? If you have any trouble sleeping, it’s best to limit caffeine to no more than 2 servings per day, and avoid consumption after noon. Some may need to limit further, so experiment with different strategies and see what works for you.

Exercise regularly. It’s not just about cardiovascular health or weight! Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and ease difficulty with falling asleep. It also gives us an energy boost during the day. Move more, and see if your sleep improves.

Avoid napping. It’s tempting to nap during the day if we have trouble sleeping at night. A 30-minute cat nap periodically is nice, but most of us should avoid regular or prolonged naps in order to sleep well.

Put your phone up. Blue lights are known to stimulate our brains, and are the last thing we need prior to bedtime. Stop using your phone within 1-2 hours of going to sleep. Consider blue light glasses, or scheduling screen-free time during the day.

Set up your bedroom. It’s important to have a quiet, dark, cool sleep environment. For women who are often caring for children and pets, this can be challenging. If your pets and children are keeping you up, it might be time to have them sleep in their own space. White noise, fans, thick curtains, and a comfortable mattress and pillows can all be helpful as well.

Consider supplements. Though data is mixed on the efficacy of these, there are many options for supplements generally thought to be safe and possibly helpful. Chamomile tea, melatonin, magnesium, and lavender are just a few of the many options. If you take medications or have medical conditions you should check with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement.

Manage sleep apnea. So many people have sleep apnea and either don’t realize it or minimize the importance of treating it. Not only does sleep apnea drastically reduce the quality of sleep, it’s hazardous for our health. If you chronically snore, you may need a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea.

Talk to your provider. If you haven’t spoken to your health care provider about your sleep issues, now is a great time to correct that! There are many options to help with sleep, and even sleep specialists you can be referred to if needed. 

Sometimes we can be envious of sleeping babies, and wish sleep would come that easy. Though swaddling and a pacifier aren’t going to lull us to sleep, we do have some options to help us in this area. It’s hard to feel well without good sleep, and I hope one or more of the suggestions above is helpful to you.

Sleep well, and be well, friends.

The above information is not intended as medical advise and should not be construed as such.

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