Poor Sleep Habits Affect Overall Health
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a shocking number of women--nearly 70 percent--report that they have difficulty sleeping. Not only does the body find itself deprived of energy and focus, but poor sleep habits can have many negative effects on overall health including increased risk of depression, cardiac problems, diabetes, weight gain, gastrointestinal problems and various cancers.
Women are twice as likely to suffer from sleep disorders as men, with hormonal issues and stress playing a part in the development of sleep problems. Although more than 60 million prescriptions for sleep disorders were written last year, prescription medication is not an appropriate long-term solution. Many sleep drugs are highly addictive and can cause other health problems as well.
“The bottom line is that prescription sleeping pills are a short-term solution,” says James Maas, Ph.D., co-author of Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask.
Learn How to Develop Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is the most effective and natural solution for most sleep disorders. Michael Thorpy, MD and director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center Montefiore Medical Center in New York explains, “Sleep hygiene is important for everyone, from childhood through adulthood. A good sleep hygiene routine promotes healthy sleep and daytime alertness. Good sleep hygiene practices can prevent the development of sleep problems and disorders.”
What are some of the best sleep hygiene techniques for a high-quality snooze-fest each night? Learn how to get a good night’s rest with these simple tips and tricks:
Create a regular bedtime routine. Humans thrive on habits. By establishing a regular bedtime schedule, your body will learn when it is expected to sleep. When you change your sleep schedule, you disrupt your brain’s sleep center and cause nighttime wakefulness.
Skip the nap. Despite the fact that you feel tired, napping can actually add to the disruption of a regular nightly sleep patterns.
Hit the gym early. Exercise can help you sleep more soundly, but it is important not to exercise too late in the day. Vigorous exercise right before bed can actually cause sleepless nights because it stimulates your heart, brain and muscles. The best time to exercise is when you get up in the morning or sometime early in the day, preferably before evening.
Don’t eat heavy meals before bed. Not only is eating large meals late in the day not good for weight management, but neither is it good for your sleep habits. Stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol should also be avoided before bedtime.
Lights out. Mother always said, “Lights out,” for good reason. Artificial light disrupts your internal clock and can create wakefulness. Blue light from computers, smartphones and television can also act as a stimulant, so make sure to turn those off at least an hour before bedtime. In addition, make sure to get plenty of exposure to natural light during the daytime so that your body establishes a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Make your bedroom a peaceful retreat. By creating a peaceful, relaxing environment in your bedroom, you will encourage good sleep habits. The last thing you want in your room is lots of visual chaos and clutter that will keep the wheels turning in your mind all night long. Make your bedroom the tranquil retreat you deserve and put your sleep issues to bed for the last time.