Wellness & Wonder

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Friday, Feb 08 2013 03:40 PM

What Happens When: Recommendations to get healthy sleep

By Thomas Armstrong DDS, DABDSM

How healthy is your sleep? Most of us are short-changing our well-being by not receiving enough rest that we truly need. Sleep is the body’s re-charging system — not enough of it, and we can’t function at our full potential! Medical science is finding out how important a good night’s rest is to our overall health, and for our memory and emotional functioning. It’s true — most adults really need eight hours of good sleep every night. Children and teens should be getting nine to 10 hours. Too little, and we build up sleep debt. Yes, our body keeps track of missed sleep, and will try to make it up. Research shows the average adult is 20+ hours behind on sleep. What this means is that sleeping in a few hours on the weekend is not enough to catch up. The science of healthy sleep habits is called sleep hygiene.

Ideas to maintain a healthy sleep hygiene:

1. Caffeine

We’ve heard it before — no caffeine after mid-afternoon.

2. Stay on schedule

Develop a sleep schedule by having a consistent bedtime (and wake-up time).

3. The right temperature

A cool bedroom is best at 66 to 68 degrees, which is an optimum temperature for most.

4. Mattress matters

Another no-brainer — get a comfortable, supportive mattress.

5. Electronics

Turn off the TV and computer an hour before sleep time. These electronics keep our brains too active to slow down easily. Also, monitors put out blue light, which affects the sleep cycle system.

6. Cellphones

Guess what? Cellphones also produce blue light, so stop texting before bedtime.

7. Quench your thirst

A glass of warm milk or decaf herbal tea can help many.

8. Avoid alcohol

Don’t drink alcohol to help you sleep. It actually messes up our sleep process.

9. Skip the sleep aids

Stay away from Ambien and other sleep drugs. We may go to sleep faster, but they won’t keep us sleeping properly.

10. Slow down

Help your brain unwind by reading or listening to music before bedtime.

Two second tip: Make a habit of good sleep every night!

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