Setting Healthy Sleep Habits

Sleep is one of the most important factors to overall well-being, but our daily lives can make it difficult to obtain the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine is key to ensuring you get the best quality sleep.

Here are a few tips that doctors recommend to achieve adequate sleep:

  • Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule. Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each night, even on the weekends.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
  • Limit exposure to bright lights in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

The same lifestyle habits that lead to reduced risk of chronic diseases also contribute to good sleep quality. Exercising regularly improves sleep patterns – in fact, improved sleep is often one of the first positive outcomes people notice when starting a new fitness routine. However, try not to exercise too closely to bedtime to allow time for your body to wind down completely.

Maintaining a healthy diet can also improve sleep quality. Keep in mind that what you eat and drink just before bed can affect your sleep. If you need a bedtime snack, try cheese and crackers, peanut butter on toast, or cereal with milk. Fruits such as cherries, bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also good sources of the sleep hormone melatonin. Avoid caffeine in the 2-3 hours before bedtime.

It is extremely important to put away electronics at bedtime. While our devices are an important part of our lives, exposure to them delays your body’s internal clock and suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Consider putting your phone out of reach so you can’t grab it while in bed and you aren’t tempted
to reach for it if you can’t sleep. Watching television right before bed has the same negative impact as looking at your phone, so removing the television from your bedroom can also go a long way in improving your sleep.

If you have sleep problems that continue after following healthy sleep habits, talk to your doctor. There are a number of resources available to help you get a good night’s rest and improve your overall health and well-being.

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