Creating healthy sleep habits

March is Sleep Awareness Month, promoted by the national sleep foundation. Sleep Awareness month is meant to raise awareness about the importance of sleep for overall health.

Why is sleep important? Sleep has a profound effect on mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. While you are sleeping, your body repairs and restores. Think of sleep like a tune up that you need to run smoothly. Poor sleep patterns are linked to health issues. Inadequate sleep can lead to increase in blood pressure, stress hormone production and the consequences are reduced concentration, reduced memory, mood swings, irritability, stress, decreased productivity, slowed reaction times and weakened immune system.

These issues can all lead to increased accidents, cardiac rhythm disorder, hypertension, stroke, chronic headache, attention deficit-like behavior, depression, mental anxiety, impotence in men, hormonal irregularities and more. Some studies have shown that people who sleep less than six hours a night have a shorter life expectancy.

There are many physical and psychological factors which can cause poor sleep. Some of the more common causes are:

  • Stress. Worries such as elder care, child care, family conflicts, financial concerns, time change and other anxiety’s all affect our sleep cycle.  

  • Alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the natural rhythm of sleep and sleep cycles. It may make you drowsy initially, but you’re more likely to wake up later at night. If you have sleep apnea, alcohol will only make this condition worse.

  • Medications and supplements. Most medications that can interfere with sleep are labeled as such, though some supplements may not be labeled. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

  • Caffeine. If you think a late day coffee drink won’t affect your sleep, you are mistaken.  High caffeine consumption (usually thought of as three or more eight ounce cups per day) can cause problems with your sleep. Remember, there is caffeine in tea, chocolate and even some cold medication. 

  • Disturbances in bed. Your partner snoring, talking and motion may affect your sleeping. Pets and children sneaking into bed with you can also have an effect on your sleep. These may not wake up you up all the way, but movement can cause you to partially wake and cause you to feel tired in the morning. Looking into helping your partner with their sleep issues, seeking alternative sleeping arrangements or getting a bed that doesn’t transfer motion could help. It is also important to discourage pets or kids from sleeping with you. 

  • Medical conditions/sleep disorders. Jet lag, time change and shift work can affect your internal clock and cause sleep issues. An undiagnosed medical problem such as sleep apnea, which can go undiagnosed for years, and restless legs syndrome are common conditions and are easily treatable. 

Many experts believe you should experience six to eight and a half hours of sleep at night. Six hours of deep refreshing sleep is more beneficial than eight hours of light and interrupted sleep. Consider the following suggestions to help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule by sleeping at the same time each day.

  • Relax before sleeping and limit any stimulating activities such as TV, phones, exercise and work. 

  • Create an optimal sleeping environment. It should be a cool, dark room. Black out blinds can help seal out the light.

  • Remove distractions such as TV and computers from room. 

  • Healthy diet and exercise contributes towards better sleep as well. 

  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine close to bed time. 

  • Soak up the sun. Sunlight jump-starts our bodies and sets our internal clocks. So first thing rising for the day soak up some sun to help you fall asleep better that night.

To find out if you are getting enough sleep, check out the sleep assessment quiz on the CHCS website,

This article was written by Community HealthCare System’s from Respiratory Therapist Michelle Budreau.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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