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5 Essential Habits for Better Sleep - By Dr. Pat

Sleep-4Sleep is essential for everyone.  Here’s how to get the most out of your night’s sleep.

Many people think of sleep as that thing we do each night that keeps us from being tired and grumpy the next morning.  While this is indeed correct, sleep has a significantly larger effect on the body than merely keeping tiredness at bay.  While you sleep, the brain is hard at work preparing you for the next day forming different nerve connections that will allow you to do the things you need to do. Sleep is also vital to immune system health, which is the body’s defense system from pathogens that can cause sickness, and is essential for growth as well.  Whether you feel as though you don’t get enough hours of sleep or the sleep you get isn’t restful enough, following these tips will help you have a better night’s sleep.

  1. Go to bed at the same time each night. The brain possesses an internal clock, known as circadian rhythm, which helps regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycle over the course of a 24-hour period. Going to bed around the same time each night helps the brain recognize when it is time to go to sleep and allows the body to relax enough to enter a restful sleep.
  2.  Sleep in a very dark room.  When it is dark, the brain releases a hormone known as melatonin, which is responsible for processes such as slowing down heart rate and breathing as seen in sleep.  Sleeping even dim lights can disrupt the rhythm of melatonin release in the body, which can ultimately lead to problems with falling and staying asleep.
  3. Be mindful of what you eat or drink before sleep.  Going to bed with a full or empty stomach can cause digestive disruptions to peaceful sleep.  In similar fashion, drinking too many fluids can also be disruptive, especially if they contain caffeine, which stimulates the brain.  It is best to have a balanced meal an hour or two before bed so that you are satisfied but not stuffed when going to sleep.
  4. Exercise during the day. Working out is a great way to expend energy.  For this reason, often times people work out at night thinking it will make them more tired and sleep better.  On the contrary, working out before bed stimulates the body, making it very difficult to fall asleep.  It is best to work out during the day so that when it is time to sleep, the body has both expended energy and has settled down from the rigors of exercise.
  5. Find what makes you comfortable. Let’s be honest, nobody falls asleep when they are uncomfortable.  It might take some experimentation, but finding the right pillow and maybe even mattress can be the different between a good and excellent night’s sleep.  It is understandable that sometimes these items can be pricey, but sleep is a worthwhile investment in yourself from both a functional and productive standpoint. Water 3

Human beings spend approximately one third of their lives asleep.  Making sure you are waking up in the morning feeling rested and ready to take on the day is of the utmost importance.  Consider these tips for a better night’s sleep and see for yourself the difference it can make!

Yours In Health,

Dr. Pat

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