September 29, 2016
By Lori Noorollah, M.D. Midwest Neurology Physicians
Sleep health is an important component of what a person needs in order to function at his or her highest level. Getting a good night’s sleep for most adults means getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. It is not only the quantity of sleep but also the quality of sleep that is so important. Disrupted sleep prevents the brain from going through all of the natural stages of sleep and in turn, does not allow our bodies to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep. These benefits include a better ability to focus and concentrate, faster reaction times, and a better mood. Healthy sleep not only helps in day to day function, but also promotes long term health. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and many other disease states.
There are a number of things that one can do to ensure a good night’s sleep. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of bedtime and avoiding excessive alcohol can improve the quality of sleep. Many people find that getting physical exercise during the day and eating a healthy evening meal may also help. For those who have difficulty getting to sleep, it is important to have a consistent bed time and wake times daily and to avoid naps during the day. The bedroom should be dark and comfortable. One should avoid watching TV or playing on the phone or computer in bed. Bright light inhibits sleepiness and the brain’s natural progression into sleep. For those who wake up frequently during the night and feel sleepy during the day, further evaluation for a potential sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder may be warranted. If these conditions are present, treatment can markedly improve the quality of sleep and help one feel better during the day and achieve at one’s highest potential.