Quality Sleep for Better Health
Next week is Sleep Awareness Week, a time to educate yourself about healthy sleep, and how sleep affects your overall health, mood, and safety. The National Sleep Foundation conducts an annual “Sleep in America Poll” which shows current sleep trends across the nation. The most recent poll found that “Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week.” The poll also indicated people are not getting the quality of sleep their bodies need. Meaning that most get enough time to sleep, but it is not restful.
How do you know if you are getting good, quality sleep, or not? If you are, you wake up feeling refreshed, alert or ready to go, and feel able to be productive throughout the day. If you are not getting quality sleep, you might feel irritable, have headaches, and generally feel unwell. Continuous poor quality or lack of sleep can put a toll on your mental and physical health.
Start your journey towards better sleep by tracking your sleep patterns– what hours do you sleep, how do you feel upon waking up, and how do you feel throughout the day? There are great sleep tracker apps, or you can use a piece of paper and pen. Track your sleep for 1-2 weeks and see if you notice patterns.
Helpful Apps for Rest
- Fitbit – helps track sleep
- Sleepzy – sleep cycle tracker
- FitOn – short mindfulness and stretching videos for sleep
- Guided Imagery – mindfulness activities
- White Noise – variety of white noises
Tips for Better Sleep
- Turn off all electronic screens at least 30 minutes before bed
- Do calming stretches in a quiet place to slow your heartrate down
- Practice mindfulness for 3-5 minutes as you get into bed
- Read a book or magazine
- Keep the temperature of the room cool but comfortable
- Use lavender scents – either lotion, pillow spray, diffuser, etc.
- Utilize a quiet white noise machine
- If you tend to lay awake thinking– keep a notebook by the bed and jot your thoughts down so your brain can rest
No matter which strategies you choose for a more relaxing bedtime, the key component will be to have the same routine each night, even on weekends. These strategies become sleep ques for your brain; signals to your brain that it is time for bed. This concept is the same as when parents are trying to get infants to sleep; having the same routine each night helps que the infant to know it is time to rest.
If you have tried these strategies, or others, and you are not getting quality sleep consistently, we encourage you to speak with your doctor. There may be other factors contributing to your restlessness.