To Get a Better Night’s Sleep, First Fix Your Day

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“Stress and epidemiological isolation, lack of physical activity, none of them are good for sleep,” says Daniel J., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Busey says.

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Chronic insufficient sleep has been linked to health problems including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Cognitive functions such as attention and reaction time are also compromised when we do not get enough sleep. Mood subsides.

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Sleep-medicine experts say that how well you sleep at night depends on what you do during the day. They generally recommend healthy adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. And there are steps you can take to make a restful night out more likely.

wake up right

A good night’s sleep begins with a regular wake-up time that varies by no more than an hour, even on weekends, according to the Millennium Physician Group of Sleep Medicine in Fort Myers, Fla. Director Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg says. Anything more than that is “going to mess with your circadian rhythm,” she says, referring to the 24-hour cycle of physical and mental changes.

Get bright light as early in the morning as possible, which tells your body it’s time to wake up and suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, she says. If you can take it out, that’s even better. If there isn’t enough natural light available when you wake up, Dr. Beauce suggests using a full-spectrum light box or visor for half an hour to an hour.

Move More and ‘Turn Off’ Your Epidemic Brain

Having regular times to start and end meals, exercise, and chores help strengthen the body clock, that helps with sleep, “When I go to work, when I leave work, when I am with family, we have lost all boundaries.” Emerson M., professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Wikiwire says. “The brain is now ‘on’ for many more hours than ideal.”

Many people, especially those working from home, are not moving enough during the day, notes Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg. But the body and brain need a clear distinction between active days and inactive nights for the best sleep, she notes. Exercising in the morning can increase daytime alertness. If you exercise afterward, do it at least four to six hours before bedtime, Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg says. Exercise raises body temperature, and high body temperature can disrupt sleep.

watch what you drink

Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg advises his patients to avoid caffeine from the middle of the afternoon. The advice isn’t surprising, but Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg says people often underestimate the amount of caffeine in soda. And for some sensitive people, the caffeine content in chocolate can impair sleep.

share your thoughts

What’s your secret to a good night’s sleep? Join the conversation below.

Be careful with the timing of alcohol consumption, too, says Jennifer L. Martin, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Alcohol may initially make people feel sleepy, but as it’s metabolized, “it’s very alert,” she says. This effect begins about three or four hours after you drink it.

“If you have a glass of wine or two or three at dinner, you may have trouble sleeping,” she says. “If you have a nightcap, you can sleep fine. Will ruin your sleep later.”

Avoid taking naps—or keep them short

Professor and Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. If you have trouble falling asleep at bedtime, don’t take naps during the day, even if you feel sleepy, says Safwan Badr. “A nap is like having a peanut butter sandwich before dinner,” he says. “It ruins your appetite” for sleep.

If you feel like you can’t go the day without a nap, keep it to 20 minutes or less, says Dr. Busey—”enough to recharge a person’s alertness, but not so much that you’re following stealing sleep from the night.”

work on reducing stress

The isolation of the pandemic has taken a toll on many of us and it is not helping us with our sleep. Connecting with loved ones during the day, preferably in person if you can do it safely, fights isolation and helps reduce the stress response to stay awake and alert, says Dr. Beauce.

Worries around, to-do lists and other combative thoughts are often the enemy of sleep. Dr. Wikiwire recommends addressing them by keeping a journal where you write down any concerns you have and anything on your mind. Do this at least two hours before bedtime to give the thoughts time to settle.

With practice, he says, you’ll learn that you “don’t need to focus on that, and those thoughts will be waiting for me in the morning.” End your entry with a “gratitude list,” says Dr. Wickwire. Research has found a link between expressing gratitude and sleeping better, he noted.

Write Andrea Petersen [email protected] . Feather


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