How to get a good night’s rest

We all need a good night’s rest. When we get the sleep we need we wake up feeling refreshed and have a better chance of staying healthy. So, are you getting enough sleep?

Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Sleep

One warning sign is that you are waking up tired in the morning. You might also feel lethargic or your work productivity declining. You might have an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.

Your cognitive performance diminishes, and your memory is impaired. Your work and personal relationships can suffer when you are unhappy due to a lack of sleep.

But crankiness and forgetfulness are only the tips of the iceberg. Research shows that continuing to get enough sleep or not getting quality sleep will increase your chance of serious conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.

If you have these symptoms, we recommend that you take a step back and evaluate
how you can improve your sleep.

How Your Routine Can Impact Your Sleep

Your day-to-day routine can impact your sleep pattern.

  • Working late into the night, being attached to your phone every hour of the day, and more can adversely affect your sleep.
  • Exercise routines performed close to bedtime can make for a restless night. Timing matters as exercise causes the body to release endorphins. These chemicals can create a level of activity in the brain that will keep you awake.
  • Taking lengthy naps at irregular times can also keep you up at night. A brief nap can be refreshing but naps taking longer than 20 minutes, can interrupt a good night’s sleep.
  • Taking lengthy naps at irregular times can also keep you up at night. A brief nap can be refreshing but naps taking longer than 20 minutes, can interrupt a good night’s sleep.
  • Evening meals that include sugar and carbs can keep you awake at night. Spicy and acidic foods can cause heartburn and reflux that can disturb your sleep. Too many liquids can keep you running to the bathroom instead of sleeping.
  • Caffeine can still stimulate you up to 6 hours after drinking it. “Results demonstrated a moderate dose of caffeine at bedtime, 3 hours prior to bedtime, or 6 hours prior to bedtime each have significant effects on sleep disturbance.”
  • Smoking will certainly keep you up at night.

Tips to Get a Good Night’s Rest

Happy woman in her bed

To keep your energy up, be productive, and wake up in a better mood, try these tips to help you get a good night’s rest.

Keep to a Schedule

Adhere to a regular sleep schedule. Set a particular time to wake up each morning and to go to bed at night. Stick to this schedule even on the weekend and vacation. This helps to set your internal clock. Don’t nap too late in the day and limit naps to 20 minutes.

Have a Routine

When you follow a routine, you’re signaling to your body what happens next. So, develop a bedtime routine that will relax you and get you ready for bedtime. Choose a good book to read, turn on some soft music, or take a relaxing bath. It will also help to turn off your devices and dim the lights.

Remove Blue Light

The blue light from devices makes it harder for you to sleep. Make sure you aren’t exposed to these bright screens within two hours of bedtime. Your device should have a blue-light filter. Make sure you are using this feature when using your device late in the day. Set a time to peruse social media, check emails, and make phone calls. This will help you reserve bedtime for only sleep preparation.

Exercise at Least 3 Hours Prior to Bedtime

Exercise is important for our health, but timing is everything. When you exercise your metabolism speeds up and cortisol is increased. Make sure that you set a regular exercise time that’s not within three hours of your set bedtime.

Avoid Alcohol and Large Meals

Large meals before bed can keep you up and alcohol can disturb your sleep. Try sticking to a heart-healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.

Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

The recommended cut-off time for caffeine use is a minimum of six hours before bedtime. For example, if you typically go to bed at 10 pm, avoiding caffeine after 4 pm can help minimize sleep problems.

Quit Smoking

There is no surprise here. Bottom line is that you need to quit smoking for more reasons other than sleep.

When to Speak to a Doctor

Woman Rested

Many other conditions could be affecting your sleep. If you feel that one of these may be at the root of your sleeping issue, talk with your physician.

Pain – Some conditions can cause pain, stopping you from getting a night of restful sleep.

Insomnia – Common for those 60 or older, it can stop you from getting to sleep and staying asleep. If it takes you a long time to fall asleep or wake up several times throughout the night, you may be suffering from insomnia.

Medications – Heart medications like beta-blockers can cause insomnia. Asthma medications like theophylline contain chemicals akin to caffeine. Insomnia is the most common side-effect of anti-depressants that are SSRI’s.

Sleep Apnea – Those with sleep apnea experience pauses in breathing, causing you to snore loudly and leaving you feeling sleepy all day.

If you are experiencing tiredness and are not able to perform your normal activities for more than a couple of weeks, you might have a sleep problem that needs to be addressed. It’s time to speak with your doctor about making some changes to help you get a better night’s rest.

Call your physician at Southwest OB/GYN of you are experiencing sleep issues.

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