It’s been a month since we last shared some tips on getting more rest at night. So ask yourself: do you feel more rested than you did a month ago?

We’re willing to bet you don’t: September is notoriously busy! Children head back to school, work tends to get more chaotic as people return from their vacations...September seems to be full of triggers that keep us awake at night.

Unfortunately, failing to nip your sleep problems in the bud could lead to chronic sleep problems. Remember, between 50-70 million Americans currently battle sleep disorders. And a lack of good sleep does more than make us sluggish and cranky. People who are chronically sleep-deprived are prone to a wide range of health risks, including obesity and diabetes.  Sleep deprivation can also wreak havoc on your immune system, and with cold and flu season coming up quick, that means we all need lots of shut-eye to ward off those awful viruses.

So what can be done to sleep deprivation? In some cases, addressing our day-to-day habits actually help us sleep more soundly. Consider, for example, these three common contributors to a poor night’s rest:

  • Screen exposure can ruin healthy sleep and healthy living efforts. Exposure to screens. The technology we all use every day could be keeping you up at night. If you read from a tablet before bed, watch television or movies at night, or even send messages and emails from your phone late into the evening, you could be adding to the difficulty of getting to sleep. Bright screens stop the production of melatonin, which is an important hormone that plays a key role in our body’s ability to manage its sleep cycle. To address this issue, turn off your electronics one to two hours before going to sleep. You may also be able to activate “night shift” modes on your electronics, which are typically designed to turn screens orange rather than blue - removing your exposure to the most disruptive of light wavelengths.
  • Meals and snacks. Did you know that certain foods can prevent you from falling asleep? Meals that contain lots of protein or are high in fat content are harder for the body to digest, so if you eat them right before bed, that extra work could take you longer to drift to Dreamland. If you must have a snack before bed, choose something light and rich in carbs to ensure you drift into sleep more quickly and easily.
  • Indulging in naps. If you’re someone who already experiences difficulty sleeping, naps are one of the worst things for you, as they can throw off our body’s natural sleep cycles. Even though it might be tempting to catch some shut-eye before dinnertime, it’s best to resist and save that sleep time for the later hours.

While these examples highlight less complex causes of sleep deficiency, it’s important to note that not all sleep disorders are caused by outside factors. In fact, some can have a serious medical root cause. Worse, without a doctor’s help in analyzing potential causes of your sleep issues, these more serious causes can go  unnoticed and may lead to other health issues if not addressed. For example, sleep disorders such as insomnia, apnea, and restless leg syndrome can cause problems like memory problems, decreased performance, risk for occupational injury, added stress and potential strain on relationships, and overall poor quality of life.

Sleep health is certainly incredibly important to your overall well-being, so don’t snooze on it. If adjusting your daily habits does not help you feel more rested, contact your Genesis Medical physician to discuss your concerns. We will be able to work with you to ensure you receive any testing and care you need to live a healthier life.