March 12, 2019

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

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

“To achieve better sleep 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.”

Proper sleep hygiene includes:

- Getting to bed early and giving yourself the opportunity to get a full eight hours of sleep

- Setting a cool climate

- Sticking to a routine

- Keeping the room dark

- Removing all electronics and/or distractions (TV, cell phones, tablets, laptops, work materials)

Being aware of your diet is also a component of sleep health.

“If you have reflux or there are certain foods, such as spicier 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 after lunchtime.”

Alcohol consumption can cause individuals to have disruptive sleep as well.

“Since alcohol is a depressant, it helps you fall asleep quicker but ends up disrupting 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.”

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 be a sleep specialist at the Sleep Center who will perform specific testing to determine if you can benefit from treatment.

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

“We work with a lot of individuals who are overweight but are wanting to live a healthier lifestyle,” said McCarthy. “If you are wanting to be healthier, consider sleep 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 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 the Sleep Center at Pascack Valley, visit or call 201-383-1082.

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