Health Library ~ Family Medicine in Mullica Hill, NJ

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By Craig M. Wax, DO

Sleep is an essential part of the human experience.  It allows for an opportunity for the body and mind to rest and regenerate.  The wake/sleep cycle is one of the circadian rhythms by which the human body continuously cycles.  Disturbances in sleep can cause and worsen many medical problems.  Therefore, it is important to get into a regular sleep pattern.

Different people need different overall amounts of sleep.  Some need 8 hours per night while others are quite happy with 5.  As we age, we generally require less sleep because we do less growing when we age.  It is an imperfect art to figure how much you need at any stage of your life. You should, however, get enough regular sleep at night to feel mostly rested when you awaken and carry out your daily activities.

There are many different causes for sleep disturbances.  Sometimes it is hard to get to sleep.  Other times it is had to stay asleep with frequent awakenings.  Still other times, we awaken prematurely and can't return to sleep.

There are many changes you can make to improve your sleep:

I. Improve your sleep environment.
 A. Keep your bedroom slightly cool.
 B. Keep your bedroom dark when going to sleep.
 C. Only use the bedroom to sleep.  Do not use it for daytime activities.

II. Adopt a healthy lifestyle to improve sleep.
 A. Avoid tobacco smoking and other stimulants.
 B. Avoid caffeine as it is also a stimulant.
 C. Avoid alcohol prior to bed.
 D. Exercise regularly during the day but not too close to bed time.
 E. Relax for a half-hour prior to going to sleep.
 F. Consider Yoga, breathing techniques, soothing music prior to bed.
 G. Avoid daytime naps.
 H. Do not go to bed until you begin to become sleepy.

Sleep is an important part of our daily lives and is critical to our health.  Follow the above recommendations and you should improve your sleep/wake cycle.  If you still have difficulty a few nights a week, consult your family physician.

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
Craig M. Wax, D.O., L.L.C. © 2014 ~ All Rights Reserved