Snooze or LOSE: Sleep Your Way to Better Health

With our hectic schedules and endless lists of things to do, it’s no wonder we often have too much on our plates and feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done. While we may prioritize tasks and still find a way to check everything off the list, it is often at the expense of not getting enough sleep.  March 2-8 is Sleep Awareness Week, an important time to recommit to making sleep a priority for the sake of better health.

Your body needs adequate sleep to function properly. A vital part of living a healthy life, sleeping has important healing powers that help rejuvenate and re-energize the body and fuel our daily activities. It helps repair damaged cells, boost the immune system, improve metabolism, and sharpen memory, just to name a few benefits.

But in today’s technologically savvy world, people are connected via cell phones, computers, tablets, and other devices 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that 95 percent of people use some type of computer, video game, or cell phone at least a few nights per week within the hour before going to bed. This constant connectivity can disrupt sleep cycles and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Being fully wired has its advantages, but it can also cause sleep deprivation over time, which can lead to short- and long-term health troubles. Not getting enough sleep can result in fatigue, irritability, or an inability to focus. It can also spur the onset of chronic health concerns, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

Harbin Clinic Sleep Center offers the following tips for ensuring that technology doesn’t stand in your way of getting a good night’s sleep. 

Power down before bedtime.

Using technology at night keeps your brain active and stimulated at a time when it needs to be winding down for a restful evening. Set a goal to turn off all devices 30 minutes to one hour prior to going to bed to help your mind unwind and your body relax. Consider placing your phone or other go-to device in another room after a specific hour to lessen the temptation to get “plugged in,” and make it a rule that your bedroom will be a strict no-tech zone.

Know about the glow.

Electronic devices emit small amounts of light that pass through the retina into part of the brain that controls sleep activities. This light interrupts the release of melatonin, a hormone that controls sleeping and waking cycles. Resist the urge to check email or social media channels while trying to go to sleep. The brightness of the phone or computer screen will make you feel less tired (not to mention strain your eyes!) and activate the brain, robbing you of much-needed sleep.

Unplug to help manage stress.

Technology allows us to always be accessible and, therefore, we are expected to respond at all hours to work demands, obligations in our personal lives, and everything in between. As we begin to feel stressed, the body releases a stress hormone called cortisol, or the “fight or flight” hormone, which does the exact opposite of inducing slumber. Instead of reaching for your phone or laptop, try engaging in a relaxing activity before bedtime like reading or writing in a journal.

If you need help establishing healthy sleep habits or are concerned that you may have a sleep disorder, Harbin Clinic Sleep Center can help. Call 762-235-2160 for more information or to make an appointment.