by Bob Wright, Director of Education at Hilton Head Health
If you are sleep deprived, not only are you tired, cranky and no fun to be around, you are at greater risk of gaining weight, and developing serious chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. You are also not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 39 percent of adults do not get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night and 28 percent get less than 6 hours per night. While there are many things you can to improve your quality of sleep, according the NSF, regular exercise is at the top of their list. Contrary to popular belief, any exercise, even vigorous exercise just before going to bed, improves sleep for most people. Barbara Phillips, M.D. and NSF board member, says that “exercise is beneficial to sleep. It is time to revise global recommendations for improving sleep and put exercise – any time- at the top of list for healthy sleep habits.” Better quality of sleep will likewise make it easier to exercise regularly. In addition to regular exercise, the following tips from the NSF will help you sleep better:
- Go to bed and wake up about the same time each day
- Avoid heavy meals late in the evening, but don’t go to bed hungry.
- Avoid alcohol close to bed time. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but interferes with getting quality sleep.
- If you smoke, avoid nicotine late in the afternoon and evening.
- Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine’s stimulating effect reaches its peak in 1-4 hours, and can last for up 14 hours in sensitive people.
- Establish a relaxing bed time routine such as taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or meditating.
- Create a conducive sleep environment that is dark, quiet cool and comfortable.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Avoid watching TV, working on your computer, answering business emails, or talking on the phone while in bed.
- If you do not fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing like listening to soothing music, or meditate until you feel drowsy.
What are your favorite sleep tight tips?