Catching Your Z’s

Feel like you’re not getting enough rest? You are not alone. 11.1% of adults in the U.S. reported that they received insufficient sleep over a period of 30 consecutive days, according to the CDC. Chronic loss of sleep can contribute to stress, physical and mental health problems, lack of productivity, and possibly weight gain. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and many are not getting it. Here are just a few easy ways you can improve the quality of your sleep.

1. Develop a bedtime routine

 This is especially important for young children, but can be equally as beneficial for adults. It can be something as simple as a hot bath, reading a chapter of a novel, or drinking a mug of decaffeinated tea. Your body will associate the ritual with unwinding.

2. Turn off those electronics.

Studies have shown that the glow of your computer screen, TV, Blackberry, cell phone, etc. have been linked to a difficulty in unwinding and falling asleep. At least an hour away from your electronics can help you find the rest you need.

3. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.

While most people realize that caffeine will keep you awake, alcohol’s sleepy effects are deceiving. Alcohol can cause you fall asleep quicker, but contributes to multiple arousals from your sleep cycle throughout the night. Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime, and limit your intake of alcohol before bed. 

 4. Be mindful of your bedtime environment. 

If you are having trouble sleeping, take inventory of the factors involved: the temperature in your room, the pet that sleeps with you, your mattress, the lights coming in from the streetlamps, etc. Try to eliminate anything that could be keeping you up at night.

 5. Stick to carbs and dairy before bed.

If you eat close to bedtime, avoid protein and stick with carbohydrates or dairy products, which can assist you in going to sleep. Stay away from heavy meals, as digesting them may keep you awake.

Remember that getting enough rest is vital to your health, and can impact more than just your workday or mood. Insufficient sleep leads to accidents, more frequent illnesses, and mental health problems. If you have eliminated possible factors and still are not feeling rested, contact your health professional—many sleep disorders go years undiagnosed.

If you are waking up feeling tired, or others report that you snore excessively, call All Smiles Dental Care at 410-840-7012 or email [email protected] for information on sleep apnea and how to treat it.

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About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)