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  • AnJenette Afridi. MA

Oh Sweet Sleep

Sleep is the foundation of a healthy, happy, and productive life, yet when it comes to logging those Z’s, many people fall short. Even if you spend eight full hours in bed each night, you may not be getting the best quality sleep. Insomnia, tossing and turning, and frequently waking at night can cause you rise groggy and grumpy the next morning.

There are specific factors that will promote good sleep, and others that are detrimental to sleep. Here are five things you may be doing that wreck your sleep quality.

Are you on the computer right up until bedtime? Computers and cell phones emit light from the blue end of the optical spectrum. This tricks your brain into thinking that it’s earlier in the day. Your brain will then produce the wrong hormones, making it difficult for your mind to quiet down when you climb into bed.

For best results, stop using your computer several hours before bedtime. And don’t be tempted to pick up your phone. If you absolutely must use the computer, consider installing an app that will eliminate the blue-light spectrum from the display. Your display will look redder and dimmer, but the screen won’t trick your brain into thinking it is daytime.

Is your bedroom too warm? Temperature is a critical factor in quality sleep. Most people do best at around 60 degrees fahrenheit and snuggled under a warm blanket. However, many people find their bedroom is simply too warm. This can be particularly problematic in the summer months.

To cool your room down, crack the window open, even if it is chilly at night. That chilly air will help you reach a deep and restful slumber.

If you struggle with your bedroom being too hot due to the climate, you may need to run the air conditioning in your bedroom at night. Yes, utility bills can add up, but that’s just the price of good sleep–and good sleep is priceless.

Do you have too much light in your room? Some people are more sensitive to light than others. Street lamps, electronics, and moonlight are the most typical culprits in robbing you of sleep if you have night light sensitivity. If you have trouble sleeping, sweep your room for electronic chargers and power strips, many of which have tiny LED lights. Even the tiny green light on a Macbook charger is enough to disrupt healthy sleep. Invest in shades or curtains to block moonlight and streetlights from outside.

Do you drink caffeine too close to bedtime? Caffeine should not be used late in the day. Your mileage may vary on how late in the day you can process caffeine. Some people find a cup of coffee as early as noon is enough to wreck their sleep that night. Most people should call it quits on caffeine well before dinnertime if they expect to sleep.

Do you get enough sunlight during the day? If you wake up before dawn and spend all day in a windowless office, your body’s circadian rhythm can get confused. Remember, a good night’s sleep starts when you wake up. Letting your body experience sunlight early in the day, even for a few minutes, can help reset your body’s daily melatonin cycle. If you produce the right hormones during the daytime, your brain will more readily produce adequate amounts of melatonin at night. This will help you drift off more easily.

It can be helpful to think of sleeping as a skill, and to improve at any skill, you have to break down the separate components and perfect each one. Quality sleep is determined by a few easily identified components: temperature, light exposure, and chemical interference (usually caffeine). Once you are able to identify and manipulate these inputs, you can become a skilled sleeper.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical issue or disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this article and will not be held responsible for the content of this article. The information in this article is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal health care provider for specific medical advice.


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