Healthy Living: Sleeping Right!

We all do it, we all need it. Sleep is an important part of life and getting the right amount of quality sleep can often be overlooked. According to the Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Good sleep can improve an individual’s mood and mental function, promote cardiac health, restore the immune system, maintain a healthy weight, and more. Here are some tips to help you get good quality sleep for your health.

Stop video electronics (TV, computer, video games, etc.) at least half an hour to an hour before bedtime. Bright lights are stimulating and will repress sleep, especially white and blue light.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or other stimulants within several hours of bedtime. Caffeine can stay in the system for as long as six to eight hours. Alcohol may make one groggy after consumption, but when it wears off, there is a stimulating effect.

Set up the bedroom, creating an environment for sleep. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex. If you multitask in bed, the brain will associate the bed with other activities, and not sleep.

Maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule, waking up at the same time every day by using an alarm. We have an internal or biological clock that is timed based on sun exposure and wake-up time. To make the biological clock stable, we need a constant, steady wake-up time.

Do not remain in bed if not sleeping for more than a half an hour. The natural tendency when we struggle to fall asleep is to try to wait it out in bed, but then people get anxious about sleep. Instead, get up, sit in a chair, and relax while doing something audio, such as listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook, until you start to feel sleepy again. Then, go back to bed.

Avoid daytime napping, especially long naps or naps late in the day. Sleep is an appetite, just like hunger for food. If you take a long nap, you will lose your appetite for sleep at night.

About the Author: Jeffrey Barasch, MD, FCCP, FAASM, is the medical director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at The Valley Hospital and a board-certified sleep medicine specialist. For more information about sleep medicine, please visit

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