Catch Those ZZZ’s


Edited by: ERINN BOON

I am lying in bed staring at the ceiling once again. My head glances over at my clock sitting on my nightstand. I see the minutes clicking away, yet I can’t fall asleep. I am usually good going to bed around 11:30 p.m. every night and waking up before the alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. before I have to go to classes during the school year or to my summer job during the Summer. However, I have those days where my schedule is thrown off. Sometimes I lie awake in bed constantly restless and still tired and drained of energy the following day. I am sure I am not alone in having trouble sleeping.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, a CDC Feature: Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic notes that lack of sleep is contributing to hazardous outcomes, such as motor vehicle accidents, difficulty performing daily tasks and the more likely you are to suffer from chronic diseases developing in the future.

You may have heard numerous times from family members, teachers and doctors that sleep is really important. An estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder. How much sleep you need varies between individuals, but adults should be getting between seven to nine hours per night, according to the Center for Disease Control website. Furthermore, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey, nearly 30 percent of adults reported an average of less than six hours of sleep per day. When we know sleep is really important for us why is insufficient sleep becoming such a health problem?

I admit I will take sleep over eating any day and I know that when I do not get those eight hours of sleep, I do not function well. Good sleeping habits and regular sleep is known as sleep hygiene. It is all about taking care of you and getting back on track. So, when I fall off my regular sleep schedule I use several tips to improve sleep.

In a televised interview aired on the Today Show with Dr. Carol Ash, Board Certified Sleep Specialist from Meridian Health, Ash shared several tips on getting a good night’s sleep that I found very beneficial.

1. Write In A Journal: Dr. Carol Ash said that you cannot try to solve the problems of the day in the middle of the night. Writing in a journal and looking at it in the light of day, most of the time you can come up with a solution for your own problems and if not, reach out to a trusted friend or a professional.

2. Sound Machine: I find it helpful to have a fan running to keep me cool at night and the noise allows me to block out other distracting noises.

3. Room Darkening Shades or Eye Masks

4. Keep Room Temperature Cool

Furthermore, from the National Sleep Foundation, here are some additional tips:

1. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.

2. Moderate physical activity may help promote sleep, but avoid vigorous exercise in the few hours before going to bed.

3. Avoid large meals before bedtime.

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.

5. Avoid nicotine.

Sleep is beneficial for a healthy you. So, catch those zzzz’s. When you get into a regular sleep pattern, your body will wake up in the morning feeling energized. I know I have days when I can’t sleep, but I just need to get back on track, which requires patience and commitment. I fall into the one-quarter of the U.S. population who report occasionally not getting enough sleep. But even if you tried all these tips and after a week or two and are still not able to sleep you may have chronic insomnia, which nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences. This problem should be consulted with your doctor because sufficient sleep is an essential aspect of health promotion.

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