Sleep is incredibly important for our overall well-being, and loss of sleep can have a profound impact on our health as well as pain. Lack of sleep is linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, according to Harvard Medical School. Unfortunately, the CDC estimates that nearly one third of Americans are not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night. There are many causes for sleep loss, including stress, chronic illness or medical conditions, medication side effects or poor nighttime routines. However, there are some things you can try to improve your sleep, referred to as “sleep hygiene.”
1. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day.
2. Avoid caffeine late in the day. Be mindful that some teas, sodas, chocolate and medications contain caffeine.
3. Keep your bedroom quiet and dark, turning off devices such as phones, tablets and the tv at least an hour before bed. You can keep the lights low while you wind down, doing something relaxing but non-stimulating, like meditation or reading.
4. Exercise regularly and try to do it in the morning or early afternoon.
5. If you aren’t able to fall asleep after 10-20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you start to feel sleepy.
Be patient and give these techniques a fair trial before giving in; it will likely take a few days or more for your body to adjust and for you to start getting some more restful sleep. If you are still struggling with sleep, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. Our very own Joy Simpson offers CBT and can work with you on this. In some cases, an underlying medical issue like Obstructive Sleep Apnea or Restless Leg Syndrome may need to be addressed to help improve your sleep. Many people turn to sleep aids, but these are typically only recommended for short term use. You should discuss this with your physician before starting or stopping any sleep aid, whether prescription, over-the-counter, or supplement.
We hope these tips help improve the quality and duration of your sleep! If you are still struggling, we are here to help. Our providers can help diagnose and treat an underlying pain issue, behavioral health issue, or simply help you get started on a regular exercise routine. Call us today to schedule your appointment!