If you're like most people, you probably can't remember the last time you had a good night's sleep. So many things can interrupt healthy sleep: sick children; a stressful day at work; concerns about aging parents, finances and day-to-day issues. Throw in the uncertainties and routine shake-ups from a pandemic, and sleep may feel like just a dream.
“Everyone is anxious, they’re stressed and what we may not have realized until now is that our whole structure to our day is focused around society,” Meredith Cousin, a Franciscan Health neurologist who focuses on sleep medicine, recently told FOX 59 news. “Having set wake time, bed time, lunch time, breaks at lunch, during work. We’re all essentially off our routine schedules.”
Resetting Your Daily Routine During The Pandemic
“The key is to just really trying to stick to your routine schedule as much as you can,” Dr. Cousin said. “Sticking to a routine is the best we can do.”
- Have a set wake time
- Make sure get 15-20 minute breaks during your day like you do at work or school
- Get early daylight exposure to reset circadian rhythms. Sunlight helps regulate your daily sleeping patterns.
- Go to bed at a set time
Sleep Help Beyond Schedules
Have a schedule in place but still sleepless? Check out these tips for a better night's sleep:
- Limit or eliminate caffeine in your diet.
- Add relaxing activies as part of your bedtime routine.
- Limit or don't drink alcohol in the evening because alcohol can interfere with deep sleep and with breathing. Also, when the effects of your drink wear off in the middle of the night, you tend to wake up.
- Exercise regularly but not right before bedtime.
- Keep your room cooler at night.
- Don't use digital screens or watch television for at least one hour before you sleep.
- Create a comfortable sleeping environment in your bedroom.
View a printable version of the infographic.
Benefits Of Routine Sleep
But it's amazing what a good night's sleep can do. During sleep, the body produces hormones that:
- Help children grow
- Help children and adults build muscle mass, fight infections and repair cells
- Positively affect how your body uses energy
"Because many adults don’t get the recommended eight hours, simply getting more sleep can improve health," said Crystal Hines-Mays, MD, a family physician at Franciscan Physician Network Homewood Health Center. "Sleep is restorative, improves the immune system and helps to remove toxins in the brain."
Not getting enough sleep compromises your health and is associated with several chronic diseases and conditions, including:
Lack of sleep also interferes with concentration, energy and memories and affects performance. It's also been linked to risk-taking behavior. Some medical issues, called sleep disorders, can be the problem. And for women approaching menopause, hot flashes and hormonal changes can lead to insomnia and increased sleep apnea, too.
Sleep Needs Each Night
So how much sleep is enough? Sleep needs vary from person to person but these recommended guidelines are a good place to start:
- Sleep needed by infants from 0 to 1 years of age range from 12 to 17 hours per day.
- Between the ages of 1 and 5, the amount of necessary sleep ranges between 11 and 14 hours per day.
- After age 5, the amount of sleep needed for optimal health ranges from 8 to 11 hours each day until age 18.
- After age 18, needed sleep is approximately 7 to 9 hours per night
- After age 18, sleep needs don't decline any further as older adults over age 65 still need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
These healthy sleep tips are important for the entire family. If you or a family member has persistent trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your healthcare provider.
Sleep Recharges You
Get the facts. Sleep plays a key role in maintaining overall health. Request an appointment with one of our Sleep Centers.
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