Guest Columnist: Ira B. Brassloff, M.D. – Internal Medicine Specialist
Health and wellness are topics near and dear to me. I firmly believe that adequate sleep is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. In order to maintain health, you should have between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
Studies show that lack of sleep is associated with a higher mortality rate. Insufficient sleep leads to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Too little sleep can lead to depression, skin damage, weight gain, decreased sex drive, and impairments in judgment and the ability to learn.
As we strive to succeed and work long hours, we need to realize our bodies require rest. Our bodies need time to unwind, so doing work or checking emails right before bed is not a good idea. Additionally, the light of a phone acts as a stimulant and can keep us awake.
Some steps to improve sleep hygiene include avoiding substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Caffeine and tobacco are stimulants, and although alcohol is a sedative, after several hours, it also acts as a stimulant. Lowering the bedroom temperature and making sure the bedroom is dark and quiet can help encourage sleep. DO NOT sleep with the TV on. AVOID looking at the clock during the night, even if this means you put the clock where you won’t be tempted to look at it. Eating too close to bedtime will also make it more difficult to nod off, so eat dinner early enough so that there will be at least a couple of hours before bedtime. Make sure you drink fluids, so you won’t wake up thirsty. You should establish a sleep routine and follow it nightly so your body will prepare for sleep.
Prescription medications for sleep are a last resort. Melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement that I have found helpful in my practice. I find 5 or 10 mg of melatonin to assist patients in keeping insomnia at bay. Prescription medications come with side effects, including lethargy the next morning.
Sufficient, quality sleep is necessary to repair and rejuvenate our bodies. Establishing good habits that promote sleep hygiene can help you fall and stay asleep, which in turn, benefits your overall health status.
Dr. Ira B. Brassloff, M.D.
Internal Medicine Specialist
Flagler Medical Associates