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Get better sleep

May 13, 2002|BY Christine L. Moats

Getting a good night's sleep is very important to our health and well-being. It's just as important as eating right and exercising. Without a good night's sleep we may not be able to concentrate, we make more mistakes, and our stress level increases.

Q: What are some things I can do to help me sleep better?

A: The Better Sleep Council has some suggestions for improving your sleep habits.

- Give yourself "permission" to go to bed. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. The things you have left to do can wait until tomorrow.

- Try to relax and unwind earlier in the evening so you're not so wound up at bedtime. This will make it easier to fall asleep.

- Develop a sleep ritual. Do the same things each night before you go to bed. This is the signal to your body that it's time to go to sleep.

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- Keep the same hours. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day even on the weekends. This sets a pattern for your body.

- Create a restful place to sleep. Sleep in a cool, dark room that is free from noise and distractions.

- Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress. Most likely you won't sleep well if your mattress is too old, too small, too hard or too soft.

- Exercise on a regular basis. A routine exercise program can help reduce tension and stress allowing you to sleep better. Do not exercise right before going to bed; it may keep you from being able to go to sleep.

- Decrease your stimulant intake. Decrease or eliminate the amount of tea, coffee, or soda you drink close to bedtime.

- Don't smoke. Smokers take longer to go to sleep and wake up more often during the night.

n Decrease alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol prior to bedtime can interrupt sleep and cause restless sleep.

Q: What are some signs that you aren't getting enough sleep?

A:

- Falling asleep while watching TV, reading, sitting in a meeting, or at a traffic light.

- Difficulty listening to what is being said or understanding directions.

- Making frequent errors or mistakes.

- Difficulty remembering or retaining information.

- Being impatient or getting angry quickly.

- Depression or negative mood.

Sources: www.bettersleep.org and

www.sleepfoundation.org

Christine L. Moats is the wellness coordinator at Washington County Hospital.

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