KENILWORTH, NJ, March 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — We spend about a third of our lives sleeping. Yet, as important as it is to our bodies and overall health, too many of us don’t get enough sleep, which can have a profound impact on our waking life.
In a new editorial on MerckManuals.com, Richard J. Schwabdoctor, University of Pennsylvania, Division of Sleep Medicine, breaks down the stages of sleep and what they mean for a good night’s rest. He also shares five strategies for overcoming sleep disorders.
1. Know how much sleep you need
The average adult needs six to ten hours of sleep per night. Determining where an individual falls on this spectrum is easier said than done. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re constantly using an alarm to wake you up, you’re probably not getting enough sleep.
2. Know when to see a doctor
Several conditions can impact the quality of sleep. The most common is Sleep Apnea. Other conditions can affect a person’s ability to fall asleep and the quality of their sleep. Insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness are common sleep-related problems with a wide range of causes, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. A doctor can help manage these conditions and help eliminate the causes to improve sleep and rest.
3. Stick to a good bedtime routine
Changing your approach to sleep – also known as sleep hygiene – can be a huge benefit. There are several things you can do (or avoid) to better set yourself up for bedtime success.
- Go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day, including weekends.
- Read or take a bath before bed to relax and unwind.
- Only drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages in the morning.
- Exercise throughout the day, but avoid it within two hours of bedtime.
4. Avoid alcohol (and understand the impact of marijuana)
Alcohol is one of the main obstacles to good sleep. While this may help you fall asleep faster, it actually disrupts sleep cycles. It can also make sleep apnea and snoring worse. As marijuana and edibles become more popular, patients should be aware that they may suffer from insomnia if they stop after a period of chronic use.
5. Don’t rely too much on portable devices
Smartwatches and other devices often claim to monitor and provide information about sleep cycles and sleep quality. These devices are constantly improving and can provide a good baseline or a starting point for a conversation with a doctor. The data they provide should be taken with a grain of salt.
Read more in Dr. Schwab’s editorial, Fight insomnia: Five Ways to Overcome Sleep Disorders to MerckManuals.com.
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