Poor sleep is one of the most common problems that gets reported on my patient’s health history forms. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 survey, 45% of Americans reported that they have poor or insufficient sleep that affected their daily activities over the past week.
As Americans, why do we sleep so poorly?
What are we missing?
How is this affecting our health?
Check out this article from Healthline about the detrimental impact of sleep deprivation on the Central Nervous System, Immune System, Respiratory System, Digestion, Hormones, and so much more.
Do you think that you are sleep-deprived? Look at this list of symptoms, if you identify with these, you may be sleeping poorly on a regular basis:
- Frequent illness
- Mood changes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble with memory
- A feeling of being dull
Win back your life and your health using these three tools for more effective sleep.
Create a sleep schedule
Did you ever wonder why small children thrive on a sleep schedule? They can devolve from happy, playful tiny humans into meltdown quickly when naptime is missed or a storm keeps them from their usual routine. You can apply this same principle to your own schedule.
Are you going to bed at the same time each evening? Are you waking up at the same time each morning? Our bodies cycle the hormones Melatonin and Serotonin throughout the course of a day. Serotonin is one of your happy hormones and Melatonin is for sleep. When you have an inconsistent sleep schedule, it is easy to create an imbalance in these important hormones, leading to mood disorders.
Don’t let technology rule your life
Electronics are backlit and emit blue frequencies of light that prevent the release of (you guessed it) melatonin! Outside of this, electronics create an unhealthy series of habits that can be detrimental to sleep.
Can you remember the last time that you began or ended your day without your cell phone? Do you check your personal, or worse, work email before your feet even touch the ground each morning? Do you and your significant other sit next to each other on your phones before sleep each night?
It is time to institute boundaries. In my home, we don’t keep our phones by our beds. Instead, there is a bowl just inside our bedroom where our phones get parked each night. This may not work for you, but consider switching to a regular alarm clock instead of using your phone, putting your phone on “do not disturb” and not checking your notifications until your morning coffee, or reading before bed- from an actual book. I hope it goes without saying, but kick the TV out of the bedroom.
Create total darkness.
Even the smallest bit of light (like on your TV) or the light that filters in through your blinds can keep you from dropping into the deepest levels of sleep. This affects our circadian rhythms.
Try this tonight, sit in your bedroom with the lights off- just like you would at bedtime. Look around you. Do you see light? Is there a smoke detector or power adaptor that blinks into the darkness? Do your curtains have a line of light that wraps around the periphery? Now try and eliminate these sources of light to improve your sleep environment.
These 3 steps have greatly improved my sleep hygiene and overall quality of sleep. I hope that they will help you as well!
Please remember, this blog is for informative purposes only. If you are having difficulty sleeping, please consult with your health care provider.