Stay healthy with good night’s sleep

Start your day the healthy way — with a good night’s sleep. Many people take into account all the things they can do to be healthy while they are awake — eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products, and seeing their health care provider. However, one of the most important things you can do for your body is to get some rest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. These conditions threaten the health of millions of Americans. Aside from these, insufficient sleep is also responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, causing substantial injury and disability each year.

Getting enough sleep is important. The National Sleep Foundation, which conducts research into sleep health, has developed guidelines for how much sleep we should be getting. It’s recommended school-age children get between 9 and 11 hours per night. Teenagers should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep. While our need for sleep decreases slightly as we age, adults still need 8 hours of sleep. Some people can get by with slightly less, and some people need more than 8 hours of rest to perform optimally.

Many people do not get the sleep they need. Stress, distractions, and health issues may prevent you from sleeping enough. Follow these tips to help maximize your sleep time:

Get plenty of exercise during the day. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially when done on a regular basis.

Practice a relaxing routine. This does not have to be elaborate, but a few deep breaths, some simple stretching, or jotting down tomorrow’s to-do list to get it off your mind may help you become restful.

Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning. Creating a habit of regular sleep can help you fall asleep and stay asleep consistently.

Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.

Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music. Reserving your bed just for sleeping can serve as a signal to your body when you go to bed it’s time to sleep.

Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom. The light emitted by these devices may keep you awake. For some people, a “few minutes of TV before bed” can turn into binge-watching favorite shows late into the night, interfering with sleep.

Avoid large meals before bedtime. Also, stay away from things like alcohol and caffeine before heading off to bed.

If you still have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have health issues interfering with your ability to get your zzzs. If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as: sleepiness during the day or when you expect to be awake and alert; snoring; leg cramps or tingling; gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep; prolonged insomnia or another symptom that’s preventing you from sleeping well, you should talk to your healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause.

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