Sleep is crucial for good health, yet many people find a night of good sleep hard to come by. Experts recommend adults strive for 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, however 38% – 44.1% of adults in Michigan get less than 7 hours of sleep according to the CDC. Both quantity and quality of sleep determine whether someone feels well-rested. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Poor sleep quality causes difficulty focusing, bad mood, and is linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is that we can take steps to improve our sleep, starting with our own sleep habits. Here are 6 steps to try for better sleep.
- Set a sleep schedule
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day teaches your body to follow a set pattern of wakefulness and sleeping.
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Prepare for sleep by following the same steps before going to bed. Drinking decaffeinated herbal tea, stretching, meditation, reading, taking a bath or shower, and listening to relaxing music are all good ways to calm the system and prepare for sleep.
- Remove screens in the bedroom
- Blue light, flashing images, and content can signal the brain and body to stay awake when it needs to prepare to sleep. Finish screen time before entering the bedroom to go to sleep.
- Create a cool, quiet, and dark space
- Sleep improves in cool, dark spaces. Eliminate lights and turn down the thermostat at bedtime. A fan or white noise machine can mask disruptive noises.
- Eliminate alcohol, large meals, and caffeine before bed
- Alcohol may cause initial drowsiness but ultimately disrupts the sleep cycle, causing people to sleep lighter, wake frequently, wake earlier, and feel more anxiety.
- Be active during the day
- Physical activity increases daytime wakefulness and helps the body be tired enough to sleep at bedtime. Lack of physical activity can lead to feeling tired during the day yet not tired enough to sleep at night.
Choose a couple steps from the above list and try them out for 3 weeks to give enough time for improvements to happen, and then add a couple more steps. If sleep problems continue contact your primary care physician to explore what might be causing sleep problems and options for treatment.
Author: Kayla Doyle LMSW
Advised by: Jessica Tyrell, PA-C Spectrum Health Medical Group Sleep Medicine