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Sleep problems? Try these changes in your routine

January 23, 2017

If it has been a while since you slept like a baby, you are not alone. Many adults struggle to spend enough time in dreamland, and all adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night to stay healthy.

“Promise yourself a longer night’s sleep this new year,” says Donna Arand, PhD, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center. Arand says these simple changes in routine may help you catch more ZZZs:

Relax before bed. Take a warm bath, stretch and try gentle yoga, or find another relaxing routine. You can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them part of your bedtime ritual.

Stick to a schedule. Go to bed at a set time each night. Wake up at the same time each morning. Changing your sleep schedule can lead to sleeping problems. Sleeping in on weekends also makes it harder to wake up early on Monday morning because your sleep cycle is reset to wake up later.

Use the light. If you have trouble falling asleep, try to wake up with the sun, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body’s biological clock reset itself each day. Experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.

Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Your sleep environment should be quiet and dark. Use blackout shades and eliminate noise so nothing disturbs your sleep.

Replace your old mattress and pillow. Investing in a quality mattress and a good pillow that support your preferred firmness and sleep position can make sleep inviting.

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise during the day can improve the quality of your sleep and the amount of sleep. Avoid rigorous exercise near bedtime.

5 no-no’s

Arand says things to avoid include:

Drinking caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine primarily prevents sleep by blocking chemicals in the brain that tell your body it’s tired and in need of rest. After you consume caffeine, it stays in your blood for four to six hours.

Taking naps. Napping during the day can reduce sleepiness at night and disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wake.

Looking at screens, including your television, tablet, or phone. Blue light from these devices can trick your body into delaying the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone that tells your brain you’re ready for bed.

Watching the clock. Watching time pass when trying to fall asleep can increase anxiety and stress, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Lying in bed awake. If you cannot sleep, do not just lie in bed. Get out of bed and do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired. Lying awake in bed can train your body to associate the bed with being awake.

Find a Kettering Health Network sleep center near you at ketteringhealth.org/sleep.