June 2017 Nurse’s Blog – Get Better Sleep

Spring has sprung and summer approaches. Warmer temperatures and more daylight hours make active times enjoyable, but what does the increasing daylight do to your sleep? Many members have asked about information to improve sleep. Problems like, I couldn’t sleep through the night or I woke up two hours too soon and couldn’t return to sleep, or I was so restless all night, can occur in spring or any time of the year! I did some research and found some easy habit changes that might help.

The Johns Hopkins Health Review for Spring/Summer 2017 offered suggestions from Dr. Regina Salas, a Sleep Neurologist. She related that one in three Americans don’t get the seven hours of sleep recommended for adults to control and prevent disease. She offers suggestions for better sleep:

• Televisions, computers and smart phones or i-pads emit a blue light that stimulate your brain and doesn’t allow for the gradual shut down your brain needs to get to sleep. So power down and try reading a favorite book or magazine. Working in bed is not recommended.

• Turn off any light sources in your bedroom, even night lights. Block your clock or turn it to the wall. Use blinds or window coverings to block external light. A handy flash light near your bed could be used for bathroom visits at night.

• Sleeping in a cooler room, 68-70 degrees F, seems to produce better sleep.

• Pillows and mattresses have an allergen build-up which can irritate your respiratory tract and cause sneezing, coughing or irritated nasal passages. Sealing pillows and mattresses in a dustproof case and replacing pillows every two years and mattresses every ten years will decrease this allergen build-up.

• Pets in your bed can disrupt sleep because of their movement and dander. Consider beds a Pet free zone.

• Environmental noises can hinder deep sleep. Try blocking out noises with a white noise device or ear plugs. This can neutralize traffic noise and outdoor animal and bird sounds, or even partner snoring.

• Make your bed when you rise and keep your bedroom uncluttered. (research has actually documented evidence of better sleep when the bed is made up each day)

In addition, remember that heavy eating, nicotine and caffeine, even late night exercise are all stimulants that disrupt sleep. Three to four hours should elapse before bedtime after these activities. If you feel tired despite sleep or chronically cannot return to sleep when roused, or have daytime problems like sleepiness, memory or concentration problems, seek medical advice. Any sleep medications should be recommended by your MD. The side effects to these meds are a safety concern. Never take a sleep aide in the middle of the night when you need to get up early in the morning.

Pat Woerheide, RN

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Look forward to a CPR Review in August. Dates will be forthcoming.