Sleep deprivation can have a number of negative effects on all aspects of your health and even your well-being and safety. Some of the ways sleep deprivation can affect you include:
- Poor school or job performance
- Mood changes, depression
- Weight gain
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Memory problems
- Drowsy driving
Fortunately, you can address difficulty falling or staying asleep through changes to your sleep habits and environment. “Sleep hygiene” refers to the behavioral and environmental factors that will ensure the best quality sleep for at least seven to nine hours per night. By practicing good sleep hygiene, you can get better rest and lead a more fulfilling life with full daytime alertness.
Daytime sleepiness and frequent sleep disturbances are two of the most recognizable signs of a poor sleep routine or a possible sleep disorder. These symptoms arise as a result of aging, stress, or reactions to the use of drugs such as nicotine, caffeine or alcohol.
Keeping a regular sleep and wake pattern throughout the week is one of the most important sleep hygiene measures. Even during weekends, you should try to stick to the same sleep/wake cycle to avoid “social jetlag”.
Similar to jetlag while traveling between time zones, social jetlag is a term used to describe the practice of 'making up' for lost sleep on weekends. It can lead to weight gain, excessive daytime sleepiness and lower productivity levels.
Here are some recommendations to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Avoid daytime naps, as it has a tendency to disrupt your sleep schedule. If you must nap, limit the time to approximately 30 minutes.
- Limit or eliminate the use of stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine or prescription drugs. Common drugs which include caffeine are pain relievers, weight loss pills, menstrual cramp pills and cold medicines. Chocolate also has caffeine.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Although alcohol has a reputation for helping with sleep, a “night cap” can actually disrupt sleep as your body begins to metabolize the alcohol.
- Limit drinking any beverages a few hours before bedtime to reduce frequent waking to use the bathroom.
- Keep a regular exercise program. Exercise is best in the morning or afternoon as it can energize you for the day ahead.
- Avoid eating a large meal before bedtime as it can be disruptive to sleep.
- Ensure exposure to natural light in order to maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle.
- Make you bedroom a sleep sanctuary that is dedicated just to sleep and sexual intercourse. Try not to watch TV, listen to music or eat in your bedroom.
- Minimize noise and light by using ear plugs, window treatments or an eye mask to help you sleep.
- Develop a pre-sleep ritual, such as reading, meditating or taking a hot bath.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
- If your pet disturbs your sleep due to frequent movements or an allergy, have them sleep on the floor.
Practicing good sleep hygiene can have a huge impact on helping you get better quality sleep. In order to wake up feeling refreshed and alert, make sure you try to follow as many of the listed tips as possible.
If you still cannot get a good night’s rest despite all efforts to practice good sleep hygiene, you may have a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Many sleep disorders go undiagnosed for years and lead to unnecessary suffering. If you are not sleeping well, seek help from one of our sleep specialists and call 1-855-690-0563.