Healthy Lifestyle

Sleep Hygiene: Does Yours Need Fine-Tuning?

Published: May 24, 2019

One-third of Americans suffer from sleep problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called it a “public health epidemic.”

As a physical therapist, I regularly see how a patient’s sleeping patterns can affect their health, and vice versa. They go hand in hand.

Sufficient sleep – generally at least seven hours per night for adults – is crucial for your body to function properly. In addition to affecting your energy and mood, sleep is important for healing, pain management, cardiovascular health and cognitive functions like learning and memory.


Assess Your Sleep

So how do you know if you have sleeping issues? 

It can be easy to overlook everyday symptoms. To tell yourself you’ll get caught up over the weekend. To put off making sleep a priority.

Maybe you’re exhausted and don’t know where to start.

Take this sleep quality assessment to get a better idea of what could be holding you back from better sleep. Depending on the result, a few changes to your routine could make a difference. You also may decide to talk with your primary care provider.


Better Sleep Hygiene

There are plenty of little things you can do to improve the quality and amount of sleep you get. Many are common sense, like limiting your caffeine intake, but a reminder never hurts. Here are some ideas from Physical Therapy, the official journal of the American Physical Therapy Association. Among them:

Set a daily schedule: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time. The idea is to set your natural biological clock, establishing a comfortable pattern.

Use your bed for sleep: Treat your bed like a place for rest and avoid taking part in activities like eating, watching TV or working there. If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, leave and come back when you’re sleepy.

Relax: Bedtime is time to unwind. Cut out screen time and avoid other stimulating activities. Instead, do something calming like taking a bath, reading a book or meditating.

Exercise smart: Working out regularly can help your sleep quality, but avoid moderate or hard exercise two to three hours before bed. Remember, you’re winding down for bed – not amping up. 

Limit nap time: Skipping a daytime nap can help you fall asleep at night. If you do nap, keep it to 30 minutes.

When it comes to your health, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise. By making consistent, quality sleep a priority, you’re promoting a better you.