In an era of trendy workout regimes, fad diets and gluten-free everything, Americans continue to neglect one of the most basic steps to improving their health and appearance – getting a good night’s sleep.
The National Institutes of Health recommends school-age children need at least ten hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10 hours, and adults need 7-8 hours. But a recent Gallup survey found 40 percent of Americans average fewer than 7 hours.
A lack of sleep affects not only your reasoning and ability to solve problems, but also almost every tissue in your body. It has an impact on growth and stress hormones, the immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health. Sleeping can also have a noticeable impact on your appearance.
Good sleep hygiene is a cornerstone of good health. Here are six tips for getting a better night’s sleep:
- Know More About Your Snore: Determine if you snore – snoring is a recognized symptom of obstructive sleep apnea and a cue to your doctor that further testing may be required. In order to determine if you need to be tested for a sleep disorder, you need to get a clear picture of how often you are struggling with sleep and how your sleep habits are impacting you. With services like CareCentrix’s Sleep Management Solutions there’s now the option to be tested from the comfort of home versus a traditional hospital setting.
- Watch the Clock: Go to bed and get up the same time every day. Having a designated bedtime helps regulate your circadian rhythms. These rhythms regulate the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day, allowing us to perform at our very best during the day.
- Find your Zen Zone: Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment. You can help yourself fall and stay asleep by controlling factors such as the temperature and darkness, having comfortable bedding, and removing stimulating electronics.
- Work it Out: Exercise daily (but not right before bedtime). Exercising early in the day will help tire and relax you later on. Exercising too late at night will elevate cortisol levels and make it more difficult to sleep.
- Limit Tech Time: Reduce the use of electronics before bed. Recent studies have found that the blue light emitted from TVs, computers, and mobile devices suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin by tricking the brain into thinking it is daytime.
- Think Before You Drink: Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day. While alcohol can initially help you get to sleep, it often has a rebound effect and can interfere with your sleep several hours later.