Good sleep is vital for our health, yet one in three adults report shortchanging themselves. Poor sleep can aggravate or even contribute to some medical conditions. These 9 tips can help people enjoy improved sleep and live healthier and longer.
March 12, 2018
In recognition of World Sleep Day and National Sleep Awareness Week, experts at NeuroTrials Research, a nationally-recognized Atlanta-area clinical research site focusing on sleep-related conditions, note three traps for which poor sleep can be the culprit and offer nine tips for better sleep.
“Good sleep is vital for our health, yet one in three adults report shortchanging themselves,” said Russell Rosenberg, PhD, D.ABSM, founder and CEO at NeuroTrials Research and a former chair of the National Sleep Foundation. “Poor sleep can aggravate or even contribute to medical conditions including hypertension, depression, diabetes and obesity.”
1. Hypertension is a common condition that is often accompanied by sleep apnea, a dangerous disorder that causes interruption in a person’s breathing while they sleep. Often people don’t know they have sleep apnea and it can actually exacerbate hypertension. If a person is on more than two medications for hypertension, it’s a good bet, Dr. Rosenberg says, that they also might have sleep apnea.
2. Depression and poor sleep – sleeping too much or little — are directly linked. When a person doesn’t sleep well, they are more irritable, have reduced ability to handle stress, can have low libido and low energy, and their relationships are negatively impacted — all these factors contribute to depression. If a person experiences depression, their symptoms continue to snowball and feed a vicious cycle of poor sleep and depression.
3. Diabetes and obesity are also linked, according to Dr. Rosenberg. The appetite is controlled by hormones in the brain and gut. If a person is sleep deprived the hormonal imbalance is disrupted and the ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates and sugars is impacted. Thus, the body’s natural metabolism is significantly affected by lack of sleep and poor sleep. Like hypertension, a person’s diabetes can be exacerbated by poor sleep and often leads to obesity.
“But there is hope. It’s important to participate in the conversation elevated by the national and world-wide recognition days this week,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “With these 9 easy tips, I believe people can enjoy improved sleep and live healthier and longer.”
1. Set the stage. Light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that tells the brain it’s time to sleep. Computers, TVs and “iDevices” all increase attention and prevent the brain from relaxing enough to fall asleep. Ambient light is best; turn off bright lights or put them on night shift. Also, the bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees – for optimal sleep and soft background noise — such as a fan or a sound machine — can promote better sleep.
2. Don’t stress, get up. If you can’t sleep after a few minutes, get up out of bed and do a non-stressful, non-work related activity. Don’t spend hours in bed wondering when sleep is going to happen; this perpetuates insomnia because you’re over thinking it.
3. Ditch alcohol. Or at least decrease it. It wasn’t that long ago that physicians recommended “night caps” for those experiencing sleep problems. But using alcohol for sleep is a bad idea in three specific ways:
” Alters the quality of your sleep. Even if you sleep a full night after drinking, you may not feel rested in the morning. Alcohol lightens sleep and suppresses REM.
” Disrupts the total time you sleep. You may wake up frequently throughout the night and have problems falling back asleep as the alcohol works through your system.
” Increases the prevalence of pre-existing sleep disorders. Millions of Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, which can intensify after alcohol consumption. Moderate to large amounts of alcohol consumed in the evening can lead to a substantial narrowing of the airway, increasing the frequency and duration of breath holding episodes and resulting sleep apnea.
4. Kick your caffeine habit. It’s no secret that caffeine is a stimulant. Avoid coffee, soda and tea after 2 p.m. or eight hours before bedtime.
5. Eat smart. Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, painful heartburn can disrupt sleep. There’s even a condition called “silent reflux,” where a person just experiences disturbed sleep but doesn’t wake up enough to know it’s heartburn that has awakened them.
6. Ban bed buddies. This won’t be popular but, although we love our pets, they are not great bed buddies. According to a survey by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, 53 percent of people who sleep with pets say that their animals disturb their sleep. After sleeping all day, kitty might think a 4 a.m. pounce on your chest is an excellent way to romp. And Fido may snore, bark in his sleep, or even hog the bed as he shifts around. And he’s nearly always going to assume a 3 a.m. bathroom trip is an invitation to play. A furry bed buddy is just not conducive to good sleep.
7. Get moving. Exercising is a great stress reducer. It was previously thought to avoid strenuous exercise too close to bedtime, but research by the National Sleep Foundation now shows moderate exercise at any time yields significant health and sleep benefits.
8. Let the light shine in the morning. While you probably know that light tells the brain it is time to wake up, it also helps set your internal sleep/wake clock and keep you alert throughout the day. To kick start the day, try eating breakfast outside – sunlight exposure for just 30 minutes in the morning promotes a healthy sleep/wake cycle.
9. Sleep/wake consistency. Your sleep routine should be as consistent as your personal hygiene routine. Just like you brush your teeth and comb your hair in a certain order each morning, try to maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle by going to bed around the same time every night and waking up around the same time every morning (yes, even on weekends).
NeuroTrials Research conducts ongoing research and is always looking for healthy participants and those with sleep-related conditions. Study volunteers may be compensated for time and travel and receive all study-related medical care at no cost. Learn more at http://www.NeuroTrials.com or call 404-851-9934 for more information.
Friday, March 16 is World Sleep Day, a time to celebrate sleep and call attention to important sleep related issues. The annual event is sponsored by World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society (founded by WASM and WSF). More information at http://worldsleepday.org/
The National Sleep Foundation recognizes March 11 – 17 as Sleep Awareness Week and encourage conversation to foster healthy sleep. More information at https://sleepfoundation.org/SAW and by following the hashtag #YourDayBeginsWithSleep on social media.
About NeuroTrials Research
Founded in 1997, NeuroTrials Research (NTR) is a nationally-recognized early- to late-phase inpatient and outpatient clinical research site located in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. Focused on neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s, migraine headaches, Parkinson’s and various sleep-related conditions, the research facility has a 12,000 square foot facility that includes a 15-bed, state-of-the-art sleep lab and inpatient clinical research unit designed specifically for the comfort and safety of clinical trial participants. Dr. Russell Rosenberg, PhD, D.ABSM, is NTR’s founder and CEO and a former chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. Learn more at http://www.NeuroTrials.com or call 404-851-9934 for more information.
About Clinical Trials
More than 2,500 volunteers have been study participants in 175+ clinical trials at NeuroTrials Research. Qualified study participants receive free medical evaluations, treatment and are compensated for their time and travel. Nationwide, 2.3 million people participate in 80,000 U.S. clinical trials annually; 70% of participants say they would volunteer again; approximately 178,000 studies enroll worldwide annually; more than 120 new drugs get FDA approval each year; and it takes 10 years of lab study before a treatment can be tested on humans.
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