For many people getting a good night of sleep is seen more as leisure than a necessity. Sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. The health benefits of sleep extend far beyond good heart health. It is one of the best ways to naturally enhance physical health, brain function, and emotional well-being. Because our bodies depend on sleep to ensure overall wellness, a lack of sleep can create health challenges that affect one’s daily performance and quality of life.
“Adults should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night,” says Michael Newnam, MD, Director of Sleep Medicine at Oklahoma Heart Institute. “If you’re getting significantly less than that, then it can be a concern, especially if you’re feeling daytime symptoms such as fatigue, lack of concentration, poor memory, depression, and anxiety.”
One way to make sure you’re getting the sleep you need is through good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene consists of healthy practices to help you prepare your body for a full slumber.
“If someone can simply begin to change his or her sleep environment and make some lifestyle changes to improve sleep quality, then that is the first step I recommend before we talk about medications,” says Dr. Newnam.
Here are some tips to help maintain good sleep hygiene:
· Allow your bed to be a place for rest and sleep.
· Avoid watching TV, eating, and being on your phone or laptop while in bed.
· Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the evenings before bed. These items work to stimulate your body which can make falling asleep difficult.
· Refrain from eating large meals close to bedtime.
· Limit heavy exercise before going to bed.
· Maintain a regular sleep routine that consists of at least seven hours of sleep.
· Establish a daily awakening time that is the same for both weekdays and weekends.
· Create a relaxed environment.
“If someone can implement these changes, then do it. It’s easy, inexpensive and can be effective toward achieving better health,” says Dr. Newnam. “However, if there are still challenges after trying the sleep hygiene tips, I recommend scheduling an appointment to see me. That’s the next step.”
In some cases, sleep disorders are related to underlying health issues.
“A good portion of patients I see for sleep disorders are perfectly healthy, from all ages and health backgrounds,” says Dr. Newnam. “However, there is a big overlap between heart disease and sleep disorders, particularly sleep apnea and insomnia.”
If you or a loved one are concerned about the quality of sleep you’re receiving and struggle with daytime symptoms from a lack of sleep, then talk to your doctor about seeing an Oklahoma Heart Institute Sleep Care physician. Our Sleep Care team is committed to improving your health and quality of life through on going sleep treatment and support. For more information on sleep health, please click here.