A Better Night’s Sleep

If you find sleep to be elusive, you are certainly not alone. Research shows that approximately 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of sleep disorder. Lack of adequate, quality sleep can harm your physical and mental well-being and safety. Over time, inadequate sleep can increase chances for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.

Brady Tucker, PA-C at Tanner Clinic, specializing in pulmonary care and sleep disorders, offered some insight into both the benefits of a good night’s sleep as well as how we might be sabotaging our own good-sleep efforts.

“The amount of sleep each person needs will vary depending upon their age and their personal sleep cycle, but usually between seven to nine hours is usually recommended per night,” Tucker stated. He went on to explain, “There are five stages of sleep, each lasting between 90 and 120 minutes. We go through these stages in four to six cycles per night with the later stages comprising higher percentages of deep sleep.”

This deep sleep is what restores and rejuvenates the body and mind. Not only will it improve your mood, but also your immune system. You’ll be more efficient, have improved learning, memory and concentration, and be better able to carry out high functioning tasks.

“Sleep is learned. It is a behavioral habit,” says Tucker. That could offer some hope as with most bad habits, that means they can be improved.

First, make time for adequate sleep. “The idea that you can catch up on missed sleep is a myth,” Tucker said, “so there needs to be an emphasis on the importance of sleep in your life.”

Set a routine and be as consistent as possible. This could include your activities prior to bed, what time you go to bed, avoiding stimulants and other factors such as diet and exercise. It is important to calm the mind before bed to help it shut down for the night.

Focus on your sleep environment. According to experts the bedroom should be reserved for sleep and intimacy only. Ditch the TV and other screens, including your phones and tablets. Invest in a real alarm clock and charge your cell phone in another room to resist the temptation to check it last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Everything from your mattress and bedding, the temperature of the room, the darkness of the room, will all determine the quality of sleep you achieve. Also, your wake-up routine is equally important to your sleep quality.

If you feel as though you have tried everything and nothing works for you, it may be time to speak with a specialist. You may be experiencing a sleep disorder that could require professional help.