March is Sleep Awareness Month. Promoted by the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Awareness Month is meant to raise awareness about the importance of sleep for health and safety. Experts and researchers have long maintained that quality sleep is important because inadequate sleep can lead to the following conditions:
• Longer healing times, distracted and fatigued driving, injuries caused by fatigue, loss of consciousness, decreased cognitive ability, high blood pressure and other ailments
The problem is that even when we think we are getting enough sleep, our quality of sleep can still leave a lot to be desired and can leave us feeling tired or unwell. This month, there are several things that you can do to ensure a good quality sleep.
1) Look for signs of sleep disturbances – Sometimes, the signs of sleep issues are obvious. You may feel as though you are not well-rested or you may find yourself tossing and turning instead of sleeping soundly. In some cases, though, the signs may be subtle.
• Snoring, insomnia, fatigue in the mornings or during the day, falling asleep during the day, interrupted sleep, regular nightmares or night terrors, waking frequently during the night, waking up during the night gasping for air, night sweats, teeth grinding
2) Get a checkup – Make sure that you get a medical check-up at least once a year. Sometimes, the signs of sleep disorders can be very subtle. Your doctor or dentist may notice that you are grinding your teeth or that your blood pressure is elevated – two signs that your sleep quality may be compromised.
3) Create a good space for sleep – The quality of your sleep will depend largely on where you sleep. There are several things that you can do this month to create a perfect sleep environment:
• Do not allow cell phones, tablets, mobile devices, or work into the bedroom, invest in earplugs or shut the windows to create a quiet space, use blackout or dark curtains to prevent the sun from shining into your bedroom, get rid of any devices that create light in the bedroom, invest in a quality mattress, pillows, and good bed linens, replacing them as they become worn and uncomfortable, vacuum and clean the bedroom and mattress regularly to fight dust and dust mites, use a humidifier or dehumidifier to create the right moisture levels for you, keep your bedroom slightly cool for optimal rest
4) Schedule adequate sleep into your life – Sleep experts agree that different people need different amounts of sleep. Our individual needs can also change with illness, seasons, work load, and stress levels. Experiment with adding and subtracting hours of sleep until you reach an amount that leaves you feeling rested. Try to get to bed and wake up at the same times each day – even during the weekend. Studies have shown that changing your sleep habits can make it harder for you to get adequate sleep.
Shingletown Medical Center Board Members and Staff wish you a “Healthy” and “Restful” March!