By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
A good night’s sleep is sometimes referred to as one of the best free medicines a person can get. And too often the general public is suffering from a lack of it.
“The importance of good sleep is something that I really stress to people. It cannot be overlooked,” said Timothy Curtis, registered respiratory therapist and manager of respiratory care for St. Franciscan Companies in Syracuse. “Not having good sleep can affect you while you are driving, at work and at home.”
Curtis offers five tips for attempting to reclaim that needed good sleep.
1. Go to sleep at the same time and that includes the weekends.
Your body has a rhythm that requires sleeping at a regular time. Even though as adults we don’t always like routine, going to bed at the same time each day has significant benefits. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will actually help you sleep better at night. Sporadic sleeping patterns can cause problems throughout the week.
“You need to put your body on a schedule,” said Curtis. “When you go to bed at the same time and maintain a regular seven or eight hour sleeping pattern, it helps your body become more routine. The moment you decide to sleep at random times during the week, you can find yourself more tired or waking up in the middle of the night at various times.”
2. Eliminate electronics from your bedtime routine
You carry it around with you everywhere you go all day. At some point, you have to put it down. But too often, we not only take it to bed, but we stare at the screen for hours and then expect to get a good night’s sleep when we are done.
“The blue light that a phone emanates prevents you from going to sleep for many reasons,” said Curtis. “When you are looking into that screen, it activates your brain because of the visual images. Once your brain is activated, it can often take another 45 minutes to an hour minimum for it to deactivate and for you to settle down into a restful pattern. Sometimes it can take many hours, especially if you choose to actively respond to work email or do any kind of work on your way to going to bed.”
3. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow
There are many advantages to having a good mattress. Your body will be well supported with no pressure points pressing against your pressure-sensitive parts while lying horizontal. Your spine can be well aligned with the rest of your body and your body weight well distributed across your frame and sleeping surface.
“You don’t want your body to be restless. There is a reason why not everyone can sleep on an airplane,” Curtis added. “When you don’t have a comfortable bed, it can cause you to wake up during the middle of the night. Also a mattress can collect a lot of dust that could cause allergies. You should consider changing your mattress every eight to 10 years.”
4. Evaluate your bedroom environment
Simply put, darkness and a smoothing atmosphere can lead to better sleep.
“When you are looking at your sleeping environment, you want to make sure you don’t have too much light around you. You can either reduce the light by closing your shades, wearing a sleeping mask or even noise cancelling headphone.”
5. Go to bed when you are tired and have a bedtime ritual
It seems simple enough. Yet it is one of public’s biggest mistakes and reasons why they struggle sleeping. Sometimes people go to bed early and figure sleep will just hit them or they do the opposite and push through and stay awake even when their bodies want to go to sleep. Both are mistakes. Also what you do before you sleep can be just as important as when you come to sleep. Expert suggests finding a routine and relaxing activity as you prepare for slumber.
“You don’t want to do anything that is going to make you hyper,” said Curtis. “Consider meditation and light reading before you go to bed. Even exercising can be great. Exercising keeps the muscles toned which will allow you a better night’s sleep.”