Why Sleep Hygiene is Important
In this episode, we will talk about sleep hygiene, why it’s important to your health. On the current health news, we will discuss hospice, how waiting too long to use hospice care can make suffering at end-of-life worse.
In hospice care, attempts to cure a disease are usually replaced with treatments solely for pain and suffering, delivered by a specialized team. This is not just done in the hospital, hospice care can be given at home and even in a nursing home. The full care includes; medical, nursing care, counseling and social services.
Hospice has been covered by Medicare since 1982.
Who qualifies? Health-care providers have to certify that a patient is terminally ill (with six months or less to live)
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. For nearly 16 years, a team of researchers followed 754 people, all age 70 and older when the study began. More than 40 percent of the 562 people who died during the study entered hospice care during the last year of their lives, but the median time spent in hospice was less than two weeks.
Most debilitating symptoms included:
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms decreased substantially only after hospice began.
So have many of these patients suffered needlessly for months?
Health crises, emergency-room visits, and hospitalizations can become routine toward the end of life, like recurrent pneumonia, leaving the patient weaker every visit.
Some patients are in hospice but chose, and can leave at any time, wanting to pursue curative treatment again. Hospice is not a one-way street so don’t be afraid for yourself or family members.
We have to ask our patients these tough questions as nurses to get them thinking about care. People with terminal illnesses and their doctors should be having ongoing discussions about goals and priorities. Is it interesting to make it a standard in healthcare?
Understanding how a lack of sleep affects your health can allow you to make healthier decisions for you and your family.
We all have that one coworker who is always perky and upbeat no matter what’s going on. What’s the secret? It could be something as simple as their sleep hygiene habits.
Unfortunately, for many people sleep does not come easy. If you often find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night, your sleep hygiene may be to blame.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you are between the ages of 18-60 you are recommended to sleep more than 7 or more hours per night.
Getting enough sleep is essential for helping a person maintain optimal health and well-being. When it comes to their health, sleep is as vital as eating a balanced diet and exercising. Studies show that sleep is important because of the following.
- Better concentration
- Lower weight gain risk
- Better calorie regulation
- Greater athletic performance
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Prevents depression
- Lowers inflammation
- Strengthens the immune system
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the behavior that you practice before and around the time that you are sleeping. It is your sleep habits. Keeping your bedroom dark and maintaining a regular sleep schedule are examples of good sleep hygiene, whereas staying up late for work or drinking coffee late at night are examples of poor sleep hygiene. Improving your sleep habits will decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and help you to stay asleep.
Sleep hygiene tips
Keep your room cool.
- Your body naturally cools down before it falls asleep. Keeping your room in the 60s will signal to your body that it is time for bed, helping you to doze off faster.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This means weekends too!
- Your body loves routines. If you follow through with setting the same bedtime and wake time each day, your body will begin to anticipate when you are about to go to sleep and it will prepare you for it.
Ensure that your room is a quiet space.
- This will prevent anything from distracting you while you are trying to fall asleep or interrupting you while you are already asleep.
Dedicate your bed only to sleep.
- If you spend time watching TV, reading, emailing or looking at your phone while you are in bed, you begin to associate your bed with waking activities rather than sleep. Make your bed a place solely for sleep so that you can train your mind to associate it with rest.
Exercise in the morning and afternoon.
- Exercise improves your progress through the stages of sleep. Despite this, it is best to avoid vigorous exercise right before bed. It releases endorphins, which may make it difficult to sleep.
Turn off all the lights in your bedroom.
- Your body associates darkness with nighttime, so ensure that you are away from any light. If needed, purchase an eye mask or blackout curtains.
Have a bedtime routine.
- Follow a routine 30 to 60 minutes before bed so your body recognizes that it is bedtime. This should be relaxing. You could do activities such as taking a bath, meditating, or reading a book.
Limit your screen time before bed.
- The lights from electronics such as your TV, computer or phone trick your brain into believing that it is daytime. Try to avoid using these at least an hour before you go to sleep.
Take a bath.
- Enjoy a hot bath one or two hours before bed. Your body temperature will rise during the bath. When it is completed, your body temperature will drop back down, making you feel sleepy.
Avoid large meals late at night.
- Don’t go to bed hungry, but also make sure that you are not eating a heavy meal prior to bedtime as this may interfere with your sleep. Avoid foods that may cause gas and indigestion such as fatty and spicy foods. Also, try to limit your liquids after eight pm so that you do not have to wake to use the bathroom.
Limit daytime naps.
- If you are going to take a nap, make sure that it is in the early afternoon and keep it less than 30 minutes. Anything longer than this can interfere with your body’s internal clock and will make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Don’t watch the clock.
- Checking the clock when you are struggling to sleep can wake you up if you turn on a light to see it, or make you anxious with negative thoughts about how late it is.
Limit your use of caffeine.
- To prevent caffeine from keeping you up at night, avoid it for at least eight hours before bedtime.
Avoid alcohol after dinnertime.
- Although alcohol may help you fall asleep, it increases your chances of awakening during the night.
Get in the sun.
- Getting sunlight in the morning and afternoon can help to regulate your circadian rhythm and promote sleep onset later in the day.
Schedule your worry time.
- Many people find themselves tossing and turning at night, thinking over everything they need to do. If you have ever done this, start scheduling a time for yourself to get these stressors out before you bring them to bed. Take time each evening to write down your concerns and tell yourself when you will address them so that your worries are set aside and you can go to sleep with a clear mind.
Invest in a comfortable bed and pillows.
- Your bed is not just a piece of furniture; it is the key to a good night’s sleep. A good bed can improve the quality of your sleep. Ensure that your mattress has a smooth, intact and comfortable surface.
Take a break and try again.
- If you have spent twenty minutes in bed trying to sleep, or if you wake up during the night and can’t fall asleep again, get up and do something else. Go into a different room and do something boring and only go back to bed when you are sleepy.
3. Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. 2015;38(6):843–844.
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