March 12, 2019

The Importance of Good Sleep Hygiene

A decent night of sleep is essential for feeling rested and refreshed. Achieving that great sleep starts first with proper sleep hygiene.

“To sleep better at home, it’s important to practice sleep hygiene,” said Chris McCarthy with the Sleep Center at Pascack Valley Medical Center. “Just like how oral hygiene gives you good oral health, proper sleep hygiene can set you up for better sleep.”

Good sleep hygiene

The Sleep Center at Pascack Valley Medical Center recommends these tips for good sleep hygiene:

  • > If possible, get up at the same time every day
  • Once that’s decided, go to bed in order to get a full eight hours of sleep
  • Set a cool climate
  • Keep the room dark
  • Stop using electronics 30-60 minutes bedtime, especially cell phones, tablets and computers.
  • Stick to the routine

Your body produces a natural hormone called melatonin, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm – that internal clock that lets you know when to sleep. However, the blue light coming from the screens of your TV, cell phone or tablet hinders your body’s production of melatonin, which interrupts your circadian rhythm. It’s best to stop using them 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

Sleep well with a healthy diet

Being aware of your diet is also a part of developing good sleep hygiene.

“We work with a lot of individuals who are overweight but are wanting to live a healthier lifestyle,” said McCarthy. “If you want to be healthier, consider good sleep hygiene as a part of your overall lifestyle change. When you are sleep deprived, there are hormones that can get out of balance, in particular the hormone that tells your brain when you are full and should stop eating. Work on living a healthier lifestyle by making sleep a priority.

“If you have reflux or if you eat certain spicy foods that typically bother you, try not to eat those later in the day or try avoiding them altogether,” said McCarthy. “Also, watch your caffeine intake and try not to drink any caffeinated beverages after lunchtime.”

Speaking of drinking, alcohol consumption can disrupt your natural sleep pattern as well.

“Alcohol is a depressant, so it helps you fall asleep quicker, but in the end it actually disrupts your sleep,” said McCarthy. “Studies have shown that the second half of your sleep is very fragmented after drinking alcohol. Even having a few glasses of wine at dinner can interrupt your sleep pattern. If you drink alcohol during the hours leading up to bedtime and have been experiencing sleep issues, try cutting back or completely eliminating it.”

Trouble sleeping? Consider getting tested

Even with practicing proper sleep hygiene, some individuals still have trouble sleeping and could be affected by a sleep disorder. The Sleep Center at Pascack Valley Medical Center is a certified sleep center that treats a full spectrum of sleep disorders.

“The most common disorders we treat are obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement and insomnia,” said McCarthy.

Patients are typically referred to the Sleep Center by their primary care physician. If you do not have a physician referral, you can be evaluated by a sleep specialist at the Sleep Center. They will perform specific testing to determine if you can benefit from treatment.

The Sleep Center works with a wide variety of patients, many of whom experience sleep issues due to other health problems.

If you are practicing proper sleep hygiene but still aren’t sleeping well, talk to your primary care physician about taking the next steps. To learn more about good sleep, visit the Sleep Center at Pascack Valley or call 201-383-1082.

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