May. It’s the month of Mother’s Day, spring flowers, and graduations. However, May is also Better Sleep Month, according to the Better Sleep Council. The purpose of Better Sleep Month is to raise awareness about the benefits of better sleep and how poor sleep can disrupt lives.
Refreshing sleep is critically important for staying healthy. As with diet and exercise, sleep is crucial to physical, emotional, and mental health. A survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council found nearly 2 out of 3 respondents reported impaired sleep due to stress. One third of Americans experience poor sleep at least one night per week, and 16% are diagnosed with stress-induced insomnia. Respondents stated their productivity at home and in the workplace was impacted by sleep problems, as demonstrated in poor recall for details (30%), decreased accuracy and quality of work (30%), and impaired decision making (31%). The Better Sleep Council also estimated $150 billion in lost productivity and absenteeism results from poor sleep.
The consequences of inadequate sleep include reduced concentration, mood swings, irritability, stress, and a weakened immune system. The release of stress hormones can also make it harder to sleep, causing an unhealthy sleep cycle. Sleep deficits have been associated with high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, and a decreased tolerance of chronic pain. In severe cases, poor sleep may be linked to serious sleep disorders including narcolepsy, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea.
So this May, go outdoors, enjoy the weather, and encourage thorough evaluations focused on improving overall sleep quality and quantity.
Tips to Improve Sleep.
Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays, and days off. Being consistent reinforces the body’s sleep-wake
cycle and helps promote better sleep.
Pay attention to food and beverage choices: Don’t go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Discomfort can affect the ability to fall asleep. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol affect
the quality of sleep.
Create a bedtime ritual: Do the same things each night to tell the body it’s time to wind down. Relaxing activities with the lights dimmed can promote better sleep by easing
the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. Avoid electronic devices, including TV, as research suggests it interferes with sleep.
Get comfortable: Create a room ideal for sleeping. This often means cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, or a fan if needed. If sharing a
bed, make sure there’s enough room for two. Set limits on how often children or pets share the bed.
Limit daytime naps: Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep—especially if struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. Limit naps to 10-30 minutes
during mid-afternoon. If working nights, make an exception to these rules and keep the sunlight out using room darkening shades to promote quality daytime sleep.
Include physical activity daily: Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping to promote falling asleep faster and enjoying deeper sleep.
Manage stress: When there is too much to do & too much to think about, sleep is likely to suffer. Consider getting organized, setting priorities, & delegating tasks. Take a
break when needed, share a good laugh & before bed write down all thoughts and set them aside for tomorrow.
Source: SleepWorks May Newsletter
Medical West Sleep Disorders Center
Professional Building - Suite 304
Bessemer, AL 35022