How many afternoons do you struggle to stay awake at either your computer, your meeting or during a class? Surely, at some point during the day, you have wondered how much more effective you might be if you just had enough sleep and felt fully rested. Too often we accept this sleep deprived state as the norm instead of taking a serious look at how important sleep is as a habit vital to not only our good health but how we perform at our jobs and how we learn.
Historically, “Sleep hygiene” referred to the cleanliness of the sleep environment in the 19th century when sanitation was more difficult to achieve. Now, it refers to the practices and habits that aid in a restful sleep. Maybe if we think of it in terms of hygiene, we will give it more credence and try harder to develop the habits necessary to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep deprivation is widespread so it’s not just you! A Gallup poll of Americans aged 50+ found only 32% got “a good night’s sleep” every night. According to Sleepdex, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of sleep issues, “if you routinely fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you probably have sleep deprivation or a sleep disorder”. Yikes, does that sound familiar? And you thought it just meant you were good and tired! For the younger generation, a study presented recently from researchers at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows “that college students who are poor sleepers are much more likely to earn worse grades and withdraw form a course than healthy sleeping peers”. The study also found that sleep problems have about the same impact on GPA as binge drinking and marijuana use!
Perhaps we need to include programs for dealing with sleep deprivation as we do for substance abuse! The bottom line is we need to attend to our need for adequate sleep as attentively as we do our need to eat right and exercise. The results will be that we are better learners in the classroom and more efficient at work.
So here are some reminders of how to maintain healthy sleep hygiene and to increase more sweet dreams from www.sleepdex.org. Maybe you need to take it slowly and try one at a time!
- · Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
- · Develop a relaxing routine before bed.
- · Keep the bedroom quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature.
- · Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day but not right before bedtime.
- · Avoid drinking caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.
- · Avoid nicotine in the evening.
- · Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime.
- · Don’t go to bed feeling hungry but don’t eat a big meal right before either.
- · Don’t lie in bed awake, go to another room and do something restful.
- · Don’t have a visible bedroom clock as clock watching will only make insomnia worse.
- · Reserve your bed for sleeping and well…you know. Keep the television, laptop, cell phone, food etc. out of the bedroom.
- · Make a to-do list for the next day then try to clear your mind.
- · Try not to drink fluids two hours before bedtime.
· And for all you pet lovers…avoid sleeping with your pets because their movements can decrease the quality of your sleep. My dog won’t like this one who just happened to wake me up last night!
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