How much sleep did you get last night? If you’re one of the 70 million Americans who suffer from chronic sleep problems, you’re no stranger to the mental fatigue, multiple coffee runs, and aches and pains that come from a bad night’s sleep. The good news for you is that there are ways for you to have a more restful sleep, which can help to avoid injuries, chronic disease, mental illness, and more. If you’re wondering if a good night of sleep is even possible for you, keep reading for our top tips for good sleep hygiene.
What is a Good Night’s Sleep?
The recommendation is for adults aged 18-64 to get seven to nine hours of sleep and for seniors who are above the age of 65 to sleep for seven to eight hours. Ideally, these hours would be consecutive.
When thinking about the number of hours of sleep you should be getting every night, it’s important to remember that these guidelines should be considered the average for your sleep pattern. It can become easy to rely on hitting a goal of 7-9 hours of sleep, but sometimes your body will not hit those goals – and that’s okay. As long as it doesn’t become a pattern, a “bad” night of sleep is very common. When 7-9 hours of consecutive sleep seems impossible, that’s when you need to reevaluate your sleep hygiene and pre-bedtime behaviors.
Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep
Improves problem-solving ability
Increases ability to manage pain
Heals soft tissue in the body
Improves long-term memory
Reduces risk for many chronic conditions
Boosts your mood
Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
If you’re wondering why you can’t remember where you put your keys or what you walked into the other room for, you may be experiencing sleep deprivation. Many times stress can impact the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, which will often yield significant physical, mental, and emotional side effects. Long-term effects of sleep deprivation include weakened immunity, weight gain, high blood pressure, inability to concentrate, mood changes, and poor balance.
Tips For Good Sleep Hygiene
1. Use exercise to cope with stressful experiences
Although stress does take a toll on the body, your response to stressful situations could be improving or worsening your ability to sleep. Instead of turning to substances like alcohol or nicotine, try taking a walk or doing a few yoga poses before bed. Muscular fatigue can prompt your body to fall asleep quicker and the stress-relieving qualities of exercise can help prevent a racing mind.
2. Be mindful of your sleeping positions
Many times we’ve seen our patients come to us with complaints about the pain that stems from their mattresses. Although it is important to have a supportive mattress, the type of pain people describe is often because the body has been in one position for many hours at a time which is something you’d never imagine doing during the day! Keeping an eye on your sleeping positions can help you to understand where your pain is coming from.
3. Take naps only if you know you’re sleep deprived
Listening to your body is essential to decide if you really need a nap. If you’ve had a rough night’s sleep and you’re struggling to stay awake and alert, taking a nap could allow you to regain the rest you would have had the night before. However, it’s important to remember that if you’re getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night and still feel the need to nap, you could potentially be making it more difficult for you to sleep that night. If you’re having trouble knowing if you’re sleep-deprived or not, try taking a short walk to get your body moving. If you feel even more sluggish afterward, your body is likely signaling you that it needs more rest.
4. Keep a sleep journal
Sleep hygiene and routines are so important to understand what your body needs. Keep a notebook or use the notes app on your phone to keep track of when you got into bed, when you fell asleep, if you woke up during the night, what time you woke up, and how you felt when you woke up. It’s also important to write down when you’re exercising, drinking alcohol or coffee, what time you turn off your screens, and what you’re doing in the minutes before you sleep. This will help you determine the patterns that help you fall asleep faster or make it more difficult for you to fall or stay asleep.
5. Set your alarm for a realistic time to wake up
Although many of us choose to be ambitious with our first alarm, broken sleep is not helpful for our bodies. It’s better to choose a realistic time that you need to wake up and avoid the snooze button at all costs. After all, when you snooze, you lose!
6. Avoid blue light electronics 30 minutes before bed.
While you’re winding down for the night, try to find a different activity that doesn’t include scrolling through social media. Although it may seem mindless, your brain is being stimulated while you’re trying to relax. Try reading a book until your eyes feel heavy enough to sleep. If you aren’t able to sleep after 20 minutes, pick up your book again and repeat until you’re able to fall asleep.
Impact of Sleep on Physical Therapy
Sleep management is important for your overall health. If you’re wondering how your sleep patterns could be affecting your ability to move without pain, contact Performance Physical Therapy at 401.726.7100. With clinics serving Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, we’ll help you sleep and move better, faster.