A third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, a problem that’s linked to chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
That’s according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which says adults need seven or more hours of sleep every night for their “best health and wellbeing.”
“Sleep is essential for life and it needs to be a priority,” says Nancy H. Rothstein, who’s known as The Sleep Ambassador®.
She says lack of sleep impacts health and safety, including physical, mental and spiritual well-being. While humans were designed to sleep, we disregard our body clocks which messes with our circadian rhythm.
Listen to your body
“I just really want people to know good sleep is possible,” says Rothstein, noting there’s no quick fix to getting proper rest if you have chronic poor sleep hygiene or an untreated sleep disorder.
It all starts with building and maintaining good habits. She encourages people to ask themselves what’s compromising their sleep, why they’re tired all the time, and what can they do to fix the situation.
“Listen to your body,” she says. “The best way to know if you’re sleeping well is – how do you feel when you wake up? How do you feel at four in the afternoon?”
Track your habits, such as what you for eat dinner and when, how much alcohol you drink and when you drink it, and when you exercise. All can impact your sleep if they’re too close to bedtime.
Stick to the same sleep schedule so your body clock knows what to expect. Rothstein says napping is a wonderful alertness booster but cautions that naps shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes nor regarded as a substitute for nighttime sleep.
Proper breathing is important too. If you snore a lot, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. She advises mouth breathers, who may or may not have sleep apnea, try nasal breathing. She’s a consultant for Rhinomed, an airway technology company whose product Mute[NR1] can “minimize snoring and increase your ability to breathe through the nose.”
Prepare for sleep
“When we get in bed, we need to be able to surrender to sleep,” says Rothstein.
Stress can wreak havoc on sleep so don’t take your worries to bed with you. Learn to manage stress during the day, especially during the pandemic, when anxiety and tension levels are high.
“Sometimes the first time we have quiet is when we lay down in bed,” she says. “Then everything pours out, all the things that we didn’t process during the day.”
She encourages shutting down technology an hour before bedtime. Move your phone so you can’t reacch it in bed. Then use that time to relax and ready your body and mind for rest. Take a bath, journal, or meditate.
“A good night’s sleep begins when you wake up,” says Rothstein. “And a good day begins when you go to sleep. This perspective sets the stage for ‘Wow, how I sleep is going to impact how I awaken and my day tomorrow. What I do all day is going to impact how I sleep tonight.’” This new viewpoint may help you get the ZZZs you require and were designed to get!
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