Everyday Living

Healthy Sleep Habits

We get so busy, and have so much to do with so little time; that we forget we need to slow down, rest and sleep. Living in America, especially in the metropolitan areas everything is go,go,go, fast,fast, fast; if you stop, you are slacking off or seen as lazy; if you are not sick or dead.

The truth is we need rest, we need sleep: we are not robots that can run 12/24/27. Because of the way we are brought up, we accept being sleep deprived. We are sleep deprived because we are always on the go, we are sleep deprived because we are always working, we are sleep deprived because we are worried, we are sleep deprived because we are stressed.

In 2011, I decided to go back to school to finish my degree. Even though I was working full-time, I still decided to take on a full course load; because I saw the greed of higher education and I wanted to finish my degree before I was priced out. There were many nights I stayed up till 3-4 in the morning finishing up my assignments or studying; then I woke up at 6 am because I had to be at work at 8:30 am.  I was doing, what I had to do or needed to do (why do we say this, who or what are we trying to please or justify); I ended up paying a high price for this type of mentality.

In 2012, my second year, I was laid off from my high paying job with benefits. Then my aunt (my mother’s youngest sister)became terribly ill and I helped my mother care for her. Those two situations added stress in my life, because I was concerned about my aunt’s failing health and I was concerned about how I was going to pay the bills, especially the school bill. I became extremely stressed on top of my lack of sleep, which pretty much ruined my sleep cycle. I was so drained and tired, I was falling asleep while doing my homework assignments or studying, If I sat down in a chair for 10 minutes,I dozed off. I dozed off while caring for my aunt on her sick-bed (when you are trying to nurse someone back to health,you are not supposed to be the one sleeping, lol). I started dozing off while eating dinner or lunch, started dozing off in church (a big no,no). It was terrible, I was definitely sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation along with stress caused my weight to fluctuate and my hair fell out.

My aunt ended up passing away, the economy was so devastated in my area that only positions available were part-time minimum wage jobs. I did finish school with very little debt, thank God, but my sleep cycle was ruined and I was extremely stressed. Even to this day, my sleep cycle is still off, I am trying to get it back on track. We have to be better at taking care of ourselves, how can we care for other’s if we don’t care for ourselves?

My situation made me wonder about stress and the sleep cycle; I thought about going back to school to become a sleep technician but most of the work is done at night at the sleep lab and I should be catching up on my sleep, not working, lol. I still look up information every now and then about the importance of sleep.

I just wanted to share these tips to develop healthy sleep habits, because I know I am not the only one dealing with this.

Healthy Sleep Habits

Your behaviors during the day, and especially before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep. They can promote healthy sleep or contribute to sleeplessness.

Your daily routines – what you eat and drink, the medications you take, how you schedule your days and how you choose to spend your evenings – can significantly impact your quality of sleep. Even a few slight adjustments can, in some cases, mean the difference between sound sleep and a restless night. Completing a two-week sleep diary can help you understand how your routines affect your sleep.

The term “sleep hygiene” refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. These habits are a cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy, the most effective long-term treatment for people with chronic insomnia. CBT can help you address the thoughts and behaviors that prevent you from sleeping well. It also includes techniques for stress reduction, relaxation and sleep schedule management.

If you have difficulty sleeping or want to improve your sleep, try following these healthy sleep habits. Talk to your doctor if your sleep problem persists. You also can see help from the sleep team at an AASM accredited sleep center.

Quick Sleep Tips
Follow these tips to establish healthy sleep habits:

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
  • Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

 

Article by www.SleepEducation.org

Updated Feb. 9, 2017

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