Tired of Counting Sheep? Rest Easy With This Sound Sleep Advice

Live Healthy

We’re getting busier and busier, and while some days will leave you strapped for time to fit in exercise or a homemade meal, there is one activity you should always make a priority: sleep. 

Getting enough good-quality sleep has been shown to lower the risk of chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mood disorders. 

Sufficient sleep also can help you recover from illness faster. 

On the other hand, skimping on sleep – less than five hours a night – can have serious side effects, such as a lowered immune system and an increased risk of premature death. 

If you have difficulty getting the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night, a mid-day siesta may help. 

However, experts from the Sleep Medicine Center at Straub Medical Center advise that the first rule of improving insomnia or disrupted sleep at night is to eliminate naps. That’s because the more you sleep in the day, the worse your sleep will be at night. 

For a better night’s rest, try the following tips: 

  • Set a sleep schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This will help regulate your body’s internal clock and make falling asleep and staying asleep easier. 
  • Create a wind-down ritual. A relaxing routine one hour before bedtime helps you wind down and signals to your mind that it’s time to get ready for sleep. Relax with calming activities such as reading – just make sure you read an actual book, and not an electronic one. The light emanated by electronic screens activate the brain, which can make it harder to fall asleep. 
  • Design an ideal sleeping space. Get rid of distractions such as televisions, laptops and other electronic devices that can tempt you to stay awake. Invest in a quality mattress, comfortable pillows and linens. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, white noise devices, humidifiers, fans or other sleep aids to help you drift off to dreamland. 

With adequate sleep, you should be able to go about your day feeling rested and alert. 

However, some people fall asleep at times when they should be able to stay awake. This dangerous situation may be a sign of a sleep disorder, which can be identified and successfully treated. 

If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or remaining awake, discuss your situation with your primary care physician, or contact the Straub Sleep Medicine Center, the only accredited sleep disorders clinic in the state, at 522-4448. 

Neighbor island residents may call toll-free at 1-800-232-9491, ext. 4448.

Published on: January 12, 2016