Sleep Wellness - Evaluating Sleep Hygiene

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Fall into Better Sleep Hygiene

If you are like most Americans, your smart phone has replaced your alarm clock as well as your calendar, MP3 player, camera, video camera, and address book. Your smart phone has become an extension of your office, making it impossible to turn off.  It is common for people to fall asleep with their phones beside them, while others may read in bed with a digital reader.  Many people enjoy falling asleep with the television on, and some even bring their laptops to bed.  If you recognize any of these habits as your own, you may be severely jeopardizing the quality of your nighttime sleep.

Sleep hygiene is made up of a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. As we encourage testing for potential sleep apnea candidates, please also keep the following information in mind, when discussing and examining sleep health. Good sleep hygiene is important to your overall health and wellness.

           Here are some helpful tips to consider when improving sleep hygiene:

1.       Go to bed at the same time each night. 

2.       Wake up from bed at the same time each day. 

3.       Exercise regularly each day, preferably either in the morning or 3 hours before bedtime.

4.       Get regular exposure to the outdoors, or to bright lights, especially in the late afternoon.

5.       Keep the temperature in your bedroom on the cooler side, around 65 degrees.    .

6.       Keep the bedroom dark and quiet when sleeping. 

7.       Only use your bed for sleep and intimate time with your significant other. 

8.       Take medications as directed. It is helpful to take prescribed sleeping pills either 1 hour
before bedtime, so they are causing drowsiness when you lie down, or 10 hours before
getting up, to avoid daytime drowsiness. 

9.       Use a relaxation exercise, massage, or warm bath just before going to sleep.

10.   Keep your hands and feet warm.



           Here are the things NOT to do during your sleep routine:

1.       Exercise just before going to bed. 

2.        Take daytime naps, especially more than 30 minutes.

3.       Have caffeine in the evening.

4.       Read or watch television in bed. 

5.       Consume alcohol to help you sleep.

6.       Go to bed too hungry or too full.

7.       Take another person's sleeping pills without your doctor's knowledge.  
Diphenhydramine (an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter sleep meds)
can have serious side effects for elderly patients.

8.       Engage in stimulating activity just before bed, such as playing a game or having an
important discussion with a loved one. 

9.       Force yourself to go to sleep. This only makes your mind and body more alert. 

Additional tip:
If you lie in bed awake for more than 20-30 minutes, get up, go to a different room and participate in a quiet activity (e.g. non-excitable reading or television). When you start to feel sleepy, return to bed and repeat this during the night as needed. 

If you are practicing these sleep hygiene tips and are still waking up feeling fatigued and/or groggy, there may be a bigger problem. You may be suffering from a sleep breathing disorder. The most common sleep breathing disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when there is a physical obstruction in your airway. 

The sufferer is often unaware they have a problem since it happens during sleep, making OSA is a serious condition that should not be ignored.  Ask someone to observe you while you sleep.  This person may notice shallow breathing and possibly pauses in breath, which can look disturbing.  The breathing interruptions can last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, per breathing episode.  This causes the individual to get restless sleep and consequently feel extremely fatigued during the day.  


If you or someone you know may be at risk for a sleep breathing disorder, please call us today, to avoid this potentially life threatening disease.