World Sleep Day is an annual observance, intended to be a celebration of sleep and to shed light on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education and societal impacts. It aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on individuals through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. It also calls all sleep professionals to advocate and educate the world about the importance of sleep for achieving an optimal quality of life and to improve global health.
Robert Dias, MD, a neurologist and sleep expert with Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group, shares his insight on the importance of sleep and some tips for getting better sleep.
Importance of Sleep
Sleep is associated with many aspects of overall health. It can help with a strong memory, control inflammation, regulate hormones and cardiovascular functions to name a few.
According to the CDC, most adults require between seven and nine hours of nightly sleep. Children and teenagers need substantially more sleep, particularly if they are younger than five years of age. Insufficient sleep and poor quality can impair cognitive and executive function as well as poor mental health.
It’s More Common Than You Think
Did you know almost 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia and another 22 million suffer from sleep apnea? Lack of sleep not only impacts quality of life, but it can alter your immune system and lead to other serious conditions. In fact, research suggests that sleep is necessary for removing a toxic protein in our brain tissue called beta-amyloid. This protein is associated with the onset of dementia.
Signs of poor sleep quality include feeling sleepy or tired even after getting enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night, and having symptoms of a sleep disorder (such as snoring or gasping for air).
Tips for Getting Better Sleep
Turn the thermostat down below 68 degrees if you can.Your body temperature drops naturally at night and a cooler room makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
- Choose a bedtime and stick to it during the week, on weekends and during vacations. Consistency can make a key difference.
- Establish a bedtime ritual. A regular relaxing routine before you go to bed helps mentally and physically prepare you for sleep.
- Maintain a healthy diet. If you eat too much before you sleep it can give you problems with reflux or heartburn. Additionally, avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon.
- Wait until you’re tired to go to bed. If you don’t go to bed when you are sleepy, you may start to associate your bed with being awake. If you don’t fall asleep within a half hour of laying down, get out of bed and try again later.
- Reserve the bed for what it is intended for. It is important to avoid working from bed, watching TV, etc.
If you have symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as snoring or being very sleepy during the day after a full night’s sleep, or consistently struggling with sleep, talk to your doctor or a neurologist.