Provided by Patient First
Between work, demanding school schedules, and trying to find time for family and friends, we often find ourselves pushing to extend our days longer and longer. While that laundry list of responsibilities can often relegate sleep to the bottom of our priorities, it should actually be near the top. Lack of sleep can make everything else on that “to-do” list suffer. It can also be linked to chronic disease, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and other health issues.“Sleep is a basic human need, just as important as food or water, but many people ignore this,” says Dr. Melissa Denham, Medical Director for Patient First centers in Towson and Owings Mills, Maryland. “Sleep deprivation can be affected not just by the quantity of sleep, but also by its quality.” With March being National Sleep Awareness Month, and with daylight saving time beginning on March 12, you should pay closer attention to your sleep routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these sleep guidelines: • Infant – 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours • Toddler – 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours • Preschool – 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours • School age – 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours • Teenager – 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours • Adult – 7 or more hours The reasons for sleeping difficulties can vary, but one thing to note is that your brain and body always need time to unwind before you go to sleep. These tips may help you get a better night’s sleep: 1. Avoid Excessive/Extensive Napping – Naps longer than 20 or 30 minutes may disturb your normal sleep pattern. Also, don’t nap too close to your bedtime. 2. Get Enough Exercise – Exercise helps tire your body. While vigorous activity should be avoided close to bedtime, relaxing activities such as yoga or light stretching may help you sleep. 3. Stick to a Routine – Keep your bedtime routine as consistent as possible. 4. Avoid Technology – Allow yourself time to relax before dozing off. Do not stimulate your brain with excessive electronic use. The National Sleep Foundation recommends you stop using technology (television, laptop, phone, etc.) 30 minutes before going to bed. 5. Avoid Stimulants – Choose decaf over sugary or caffeinated drinks and alcohol. These may disturb your body’s sleep cycle if taken too close to bedtime.