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Tips for a good night’s sleep
Peter Carey, MD – IU Health Physicians Family & Internal Medicine -- Georgetown
Many people often overlook an important factor that contributes to good health—sleep. Quality sleep—or lack of it—affects nearly every aspect of our physical, mental and emotional health. Sleep is fundamental to how well we think, learn, work and get along with others. It helps heal our bodies and can lower the risk for certain diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression and obesity.
For most adults, seven to nine hours of sleep a night are recommended, but some people may require more or less sleep. Some signs that you could be sleep deprived are:
• Feeling tired several days a week
• Irritability or difficulty getting along with others
• Inability to make decisions or think clearly
Improving sleep requires consistent effort and commitment, but the benefits can have a positive impact on health and well-being. Here are few things to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting the rest you need:
• Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Developing a consistent sleep schedule—even on the weekends—will help your body get into a natural sleep/waking rhythm.
• Avoid caffeine after 3 pm or earlier if you have trouble falling asleep.
• Skip the “nightcap” – drinking alcohol before bed may help you fall asleep, but you won’t sleep as soundly.
• Exercise regularly. Even 20-30 minutes of exercise a day can help improve your sleep. Schedule physical activity at least three to five hours before bedtime to prevent difficulty falling asleep.
• Turn off phones and other electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light from screens inhibits the production of melatonin—the hormone that induces sleep.
While stress and other life circumstances can affect sleep, if you suffer from sleep difficulties for more than three months or if you’re not coping well due to a lack of sleep, contact your primary care provider. He or she can offer advice and help determine next steps, which may include a monitored sleep study.
Peter Carey, MD, specializes in family medicine. He is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Family & Internal Medicine – Georgetown and can be reached by calling the office at 317.216.2700. Dr. Carey also speaks fluent Spanish. For more health information, subscribe to Strength in You at iuhealth.org/StrengthInYou.