March 10, 2019 – Most people understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, especially after experiencing effects often associated with poor sleep such as fatigue, lack of focus, and bad mood. But, did you know that a consistent lack of sleep can lead to serious health complications including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease? March 11-17 is National Sleep Awareness Week. Try some of these tips to improve your quality and quantity of sleep:
- Have a scheduled bedtime each night and limit the difference to no more than an hour. Staying up late and sleeping late can disrupt your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm.
- Designate the hour before bed as quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light from the TV, computer screen, or phone. This light can signal the brain that it is time to be alert and awake.
- A light snack is OK before bed but avoid large meals and alcoholic beverages within a couple of hours of bedtime.
- Avoid caffeinated foods and drinks such as soda, coffee, tea and chocolate before bedtime – caffeine is a stimulant and can interfere with sleep. A cup of coffee in the late afternoon could make it difficult to fall asleep at night since the effects of caffeine can last for up to 8 hours.
- Stay physically active and spend time outdoors when possible. Research indicates that both are beneficial for a better night’s sleep.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark.
- Use relaxation techniques before going to bed, such as meditation and deep breathing.
- Limit naps or take them early in the afternoon if you have trouble falling asleep at night. Adults should nap no more than 20 minutes.
Sherry Stick is Fitness and Aquatics Coordinator
for Carroll Lutheran Village,a continuing care
retirement community in Westminster, Maryland