Sleep is about more than catching a few winks. It’s about achieving good-quality sleep — the kind that lets your body go to work restoring you physically and mentally.
Angelé J. Arthur, MD, is a sleep medicine physician at Methodist Charlton Medical Center. Here she breaks down a few common sleep stoppers — and what you can do to help.
The problem: Light is the most important timekeeper for our bodies. It plays a role in controlling the hormone melatonin, which helps you go to sleep. Darkness helps the hormone level to rise, while light — even from your smartphone or tablet — causes it to fall, making it that much more difficult to settle down and rest.
The solution: Hit the off switch at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to rest.
Nicotine and caffeine
The problem: Both products are stimulating and can cause difficulty with falling asleep. Going a step further, these products increase sleep fragmentation and promote poorer-quality sleep.
The solution: Try limiting caffeinated drinks to before noon, and talk to your doctor about quitting tobacco use.
No sleep schedule
The problem: Your body’s circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, calls for regularity. Naps, staggered bedtimes, sleeping in, daylight saving time, and other factors throw off this rhythm.
The solution: Establish regular wake-up times and bedtimes — give or take an hour — even on the weekends. Also, come up with a bedtime routine, whether it’s a hot bath or shower, meditation or prayer, or playing calming music, to help your mind and body wind down.
Start making these changes to start experiencing a better night sleep, a small change could make all the difference. If you're still having issues sleeping, contact your physician.