Sleep Well

person sleeping on desk at work
No sleep at night, tired at work.
Photo Source: E. Mudge

Experiencing sleeplessness? You’re not alone. Keep reading for things you can do to help you sleep well.

On average, Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night. The hormone melatonin regulates the rhythms of our daily biological “clock,” which includes an optimum 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, there are oh so many, many things that inhibit that melatonin from doing its job correctly.

And when this rhythm breaks down, our overall health is at risk. Lack of proper sleep has been shown to increase risk for illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, as well as learning disabilities and mental illnesses like dementia.

So, what is keeping us from sleeping well?

Who has time to sleep?

There is so much work and fun to be done in a 24-hour day, that we often shelve sleep to lowest priority. “If I can get another hour’s worth of work done, I’ll catch up on sleep later” seems to be the modern mantra.

All those lights are great, but…

The bluer the light, the more it messes with our bodies’ cues to sleep. A candle flame with no blue light – no problem. Tablets and smart phones and televisions with lots of blue light can disrupt our sleep by about 60-95 minutes.

To sleep well, try some or all of these tips:

  • Make sleep a priority. Schedule it as part of your regular routine. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.
  • Sleep with a night light that has a red light bulb. (Don’t put a red scarf over your lamp shade. This is a fire hazard.)
  • No caffeine after noon (from coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.).
  • Take a warm, soothing bath or shower within an hour of going to bed.
  • Try Epsom salts in the bath and calming lavender, sandalwood, or juniper scents in the bedroom.
  • Drink a cup of warm tea with valerian extract (a common ingredient in “sleepy” teas).
  • Set your thermostat to a cool 62° to 69° during sleep time.
  • Sleep on freshly laundered sheets.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least one hour prior to bedtime.
  • Stop eating at least two hours before bedtime.

Though it may seem like we need to go full speed ahead 24-7, we just can’t. And we should stop trying. We need good rest and sleep to help our body recuperate from the day.

So, try some or all of the techniques above to sleep well. Let me know how it goes. Zzzzzz.

For more information on sleep and your health, see what the CDC has to share Are You Getting Enough Sleep?


Posted: May 8, 2021

Category: Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS Extension, WORK & LIFE
Tags: Health, Sleep

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