By Mark Reploeg, MD
In the field of sleep medicine, we often talk about sleep hygiene. It sounds like having a tidy, dust-free bedroom, but in reality it’s about taking steps to ensure the best quality of sleep each night.
Sleep is tied to important health issues such as weight-loss, stress and heart problems, as well as simply having the stamina to make it through our day-to-day lives. When you practice sleep hygiene, you are protecting yourself from disease and illness. It’s a good investment in you.
Here are a few sleep hygiene tips for a better night’s sleep:
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and cool.
- Keep work out of your bedroom. As tempting as it may be to catch up on a few emails while lounging in bed, it is not a relaxing endeavor that promotes sleep.
- Put away the electronic devices like smart phones, e-tablets and laptops as they emit blue wavelength light that send signals to your brain that are counterproductive for sleeping.
- If you enjoy leisure reading before bed and use an e-reading device, buy blue-light blocking glasses or obtain software for your device that can filter out the blue wavelength light. You could also simply read a regular book.
- Establish a regular bedtime and wake time schedule to help set your body’s internal clock.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine products close to bedtime.
- Exercise regularly but avoid doing so at least three hours before bedtime.
- Establish a regular relaxing, non-alerting bedtime routine.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one-quarter of America’s adults — or 47 million people — do not get even the minimum amount of sleep that is needed to be alert the next day. The good news is that you don’t need medicine or treatment to cure the problem … just some good preparation and effort are all it takes to get a good night’s sleep.
If you feel like consistent sleep issues are affecting your daily life, ask your health care provider for a referral to a sleep specialist. Sleep medicine services are available in Albany, Corvallis and Newport.
Mark Reploeg, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist with The Corvallis Clinic. He is also the Medical Director of the Samaritan Sleep Disorders Program for Samaritan Health Services. Call 541-754-1268 or visit samhealth.org/Sleep for more information about sleep disorders.