Four suggestions for a good night’s rest

09/30/2018
Nearly 30 percent of adults do not get enough sleep each night.

Alexander White, MD, chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine

We have all been there at some point most likely, lying awake in the middle of the night unable to fall asleep. Maybe rest is being disrupted because we are working through a to-do list for the coming day or reliving a hard conversation with a friend or family member. Once the mind starts to wonder a restful sleep can become elusive.

Adults, typically defined as folks ages 18 and above, need at least seven to eight hours of sleep each and every night to maintain daytime alertness and a healthy and happy lifestyle. Did you know that more than 30 percent of adults report getting less than the recommended hours of sleep nightly? Scary!

The main contributors leading to a lack of sleep tend to include:

  • Medical conditions, like sleep apnea in which breathing frequently starts and stops. People with the condition usually snore loudly and don’t feel well even after seven hours of rest.
  • Inconsistent routines can have an adverse impact on sleep. Getting into a regular routine of going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, even on the weekends, is critical.
  • Too much blue light, emitted from a television, computer or cell phone, close to bed can stunt the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps induce sleep. Reducing this hormone makes its hard to fall asleep. Oversleeping on the weekend can harm the sleep cycle too.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle every day, not only in the moments before we hit the pillow, is vital to creating the conditions for restful nights. Here are a few healthy habits that can lead to better sleep with practice:

  • Physical activity, be it walking for 30 minutes after work or going for a bike ride, can improve sleep patterns. Exercising lightens our mood and can reduce stress. It is best not to exercise within three to four hours of bedtime as exercise may delay sleep onset.
  • Cut out the tobacco, caffeine and alcohol close to bed. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. At the same time, a glass of wine or beer before bed can cause wakefulness after four hours of sleep and in addition night sweats, headaches and nightmares.
  • Promote a comfortable sleeping environment. Keep the room dark and quiet before bed. For some people, relaxing white noise, soundproof headphones, earplugs and sleep masks help to set a calming mood.
  • Finally, and most importantly, create a set sleep schedule. As mentioned above, try to wake up and head to bed around the same time throughout the week (even on the weekends). Our brain craves a regular pattern and our sleep improves when we are consistent!

If you or a loved one are struggling to sleep, CHA pulmonary specialists help address sleep disorders. Also, if you are exploring options in care, meet the compassionate team at CHA by calling 617-665-1305 or visit www.challiance.org/cha/find-a-doctor.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.