Do you sleep like a baby, peacefully and quietly? Or do you toss and turn, snore, or wake to use the bathroom, leaving you grumpy and groggy the next morning?
A healthy life starts with sleeping properly, according to Federico Cerrone, MD, Atlantic Health System associate medical director for Sleep and Pulmonary and medical director of the Atlantic Health Sleep Program. The quality of your sleep can affect everything from your immune system and cognition to blood pressure, weight and cardiovascular (heart) health.
While everyone has different needs, Dr. Cerrone says there are five things you can do to improve your sleep quality and your overall health.
1. Have a sleep schedule
Consistency is key. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night is vital to good health. Try to balance both sleep quality and quantity, and keep a similar bedtime and wake time. Don’t rely on the weekends to “catch up” on sleep.
2. Create a bedtime routine
Start winding down 30-60 minutes before you get into bed and do whatever helps you to relax and destress; maybe it’s meditating, coloring or listening to music. If it helps, write down your worries or tomorrow’s To Do list so it’s off your mind.
3. Establish in-bed rules
Reserve your bed for sleeping and having sex. Keep electronics and any blue light emitting devices, such as cell phones, laptops, tablets and TVs, out. Reading to fall asleep is okay, as long as you keep the subject matter light so you’re not over stimulated.
4. Set up the ideal sleep environment
While we all have our own preferences, your bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet. Close the shades or use an eye mask or blackout curtains, set the temperature 65 degrees, and run a fan or white noise machine if needed.
5. Practice pro-sleep daytime habits
Set yourself up for a good night’s rest. Get morning sunlight, move your body daily, limit caffeine after midday, stop eating and drinking at least two hours before going to sleep, and avoid alcohol at night (it’s both a stimulant and may cause nocturia, waking at night to urinate).
Know when to seek professional help
Consult a sleep specialist if:
- You have a known medical condition like insomnia, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome
- Your bed partner complains about your snoring
- You rely on melatonin, CBD or other over-the counter sleep medications to fall and stay asleep
“Most people undervalue the importance of good quality sleep,” says Dr. Cerrone. “They think it’s normal to be tired during the day, but it’s not. Sleep impacts all facets of our physical, emotional and mental health.”
If you think you’re doing all the right things, but you’re still waking up in the morning not feeling refreshed, consider getting a professional evaluation. Work with a sleep specialist to uncover the cause of your disordered sleep and formulate a treatment plan that fits your circumstances and needs.
“Restful sleep is the foundation of your wellbeing. Good health starts with good sleep — and so does a good day.”
Be Proactive About Your Health
Good health starts with good sleep. If you're struggling with sleep and feel you need help, consider consulting a sleep specialist.