Most of our sleeping difficulties are under our own control. Sleep hygiene are practices, habits and environmental factors which are critically important for a good nights sleep.
The four general areas that are vital to sleep hygiene include:
- Circadian rhythm
- Psychological stressors
- Common, social, or recreational drugs
This is our 24 hour day-night cycle. This significantly affects the quality and quantity of our sleep, the more consistent, the better our sleep. So pay close attention to your naps, bedtime, exercise, and specifically light exposure. That means turn off those televisions and computers.
After the age of 40 our sleep patterns also change. Another reason 'being over the hill' is 'for the birds'. We wake up more at night then in our younger years. The more nightly awakenings the more unrefreshed you will be in the morning.
It's time we learn to wind down from all the chaos and fuss in our daily lives. It is advised that you acquire pre-sleep routines to break the link between stress and bedtime.
- List your days stressors
- Plan of attack to deal with stressors
- LIGHT reading
- Taking a hot bath
AND DON'T LOOK AT THAT CLOCK!!
Social or Recreational Drugs
You may not realize, but bad habits have more of an affect then you think.
- Caffeine stays in your system up to 14 hours. This can keep you up at night so you lose sleep which will affect daytime anxiety and performance.
- Nicotine affects are close to that of caffeine, except, at low doses nicotine tends to act as a sedative.
- Alcohol might initially make it easier to sleep, but in fact as it metabolizes and exits your system it can cause periods of 2-3 hours of insomnia after clearing your system. This in turn will make you feel unrefreshed, groggy and hungover.
Sleep deprivation has both serious short and long-term health effects. One and a half hours less sleep one night decreases your daytime alertness by about 1/3. This also impairs memory, ability to think and process information, and you are at higher risk of a work-related injury.
Long-term sleep deprivation from disorders such as sleep apnea has recently been implicated in high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
So let's wind down earlier, relax a little more, and get a good healthy night sleep.
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