October 31, 2014
   
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The Right Routine for a Good Night's Sleep
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The Right Routine for a Good Night's Sleep

 

It's no secret that too many people are getting too little sleep. The problem is often worse in summer. Longer days mean more daylight, and nights are often hot and sticky or stuffy and air conditioned, all making getting a good night's sleep even more difficult in the dog days of summer.

Getting a good night's sleep can also be harder if you work odd shifts or work from home and take a 24/7 lifestyle a little too far, staying up into the wee hours when they should be asleep.

Alcohol does bring on sleep, but it is not restorative sleep.

Improving your sleep is not difficult. Sleep is a habit, one your body needs you to cultivate. Improve your sleep habits, and you will improve your sleep. When people make a few simple lifestyle changes and give sleep a chance, they sleep better.

Creating a bedtime routine that promotes sleep is the first step to banishing bleariness. Three healthcare professionals at the Loyola University Health System Sleep Lab offer some practical dos and don'ts for those millions who have trouble sleeping. If you decide to make a good night's sleep a priority, the suggestions they offer should help you give your body the rest it needs.

A Good Night's Sleep Starts Hours Before Bedtime

Most of us don't drop off to sleep at the snap of a finger, but people who fall asleep more easily usually have a pre-bedtime routine that prepares them for sleep.

If you start the ball rolling hours before you actually go to bed, you can avoid tossing and turning all night. Begin by making a habit of a few simple pre-sleep rules:

  • Establish a regular bedtime, one that gives you six to seven hours of sleep a night.
  • Don't eat at least two to three hours before bedtime. Your stomach needs to sleep too. “If you have to have something, try a small cup of hot chamomile or other decaffeinated tea,” Ashley Barrient, a registered dietitian who counsels patients at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care said in a statement. Eat your biggest meal earlier in the day. Sleeping more is a great way to eat less.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine for several hours before bedtime. “Alcohol does induce sleep, but it is not restorative sleep,” according to John Wilson, MD, a neurologist at Loyola's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital who works in the Sleep Lab there.
  • Don't exercise close to bedtime. Here's the one time you can skip exercising with a clear conscience. How can you expect to get to sleep when your body's all keyed up?
  • Slow down and do something to relax as the hours grows later.

Exorcize The Electronic Demons

Start winding down at least one hour before bedtime. That's also a good time to stop using electronic devices, including watching TV and is especially important for any electronic device that gives off blue light, such as computers, tablets and some e-readers. Blue light lowers the amount of melatonin the body makes, and a person's body needs a build-up of melatonin to go to sleep.

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