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How To Sleep Better: A Guide

The next day can be difficult when we don't get enough sleep for one night because sleep restores your brain and body, getting you ready for the day ahead. When we go multiple nights without sleep, it can become a health hazard. Without sleep, we become irritable, have trouble remembering things, and have impulsive behavior. Without enough sleep, we have a higher risk for heart disease, mental illness, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and illnesses like colds and flues. UC Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker described a telltale sign of this as “…one of the largest sleep experiments ever done. It’s been performed on 1.6 billion people. It happens twice a year, and it continues to happen.” Daylight savings time. According to Dr. Walker, when we lose an hour of sleep in the spring, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks and a 21% decrease when we gain an hour in the fall.

If you still aren’t convinced that sleep is essential, just ask Randy Gardner. After staying awake for eleven days (breaking the Guinness Work Record in 1964) and later experiencing harrowing years of insomnia, he says that sleep is one of the most important things your body needs.

How can we get more and better sleep? Here are some tips on how you can start sleeping betting in Woburn, MA.

young man peacefully sleeping
Don’t Drink Caffeine Too Late in the Day

Many of us drink caffeine in the morning to help us wake up, and that is okay. However, drinking too much caffeine and too late in the day can be a detriment to your sleep cycle. By drinking caffeine, you’ll experience sharper focus, more energy, and increase the happy chemical in your brain, dopamine. Many people know these benefits but don’t know that caffeine can stay in your body for 6-8 hours after drinking it. This means that if you go to bed at 10 pm, you should stop drinking caffeine by 2 pm. That’s why many of our favorite coffee shops close in the afternoon. Though, some stay open longer. So if you aren’t trying to stimulate your central nervous system, it’s your job to stick to decaf after 2 or 3 pm.

Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

In contrast to caffeine, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. As many know, drinking alcohol makes us tired, and initially, it’s pretty easy to fall asleep. But, if you think that alcohol before bed is a good thing, think again. Alcohol reduces the time spent in REM sleep. While in this stage of sleep, your brain is dreaming, and your body is paralyzed, but that’s not the only thing going on. While you are in REM sleep, your hippocampus is stimulated—the part of the brain that plays the most significant role in memory and learning. If interrupted, these functions don’t take place.

Additionally, your body is working hard to rid itself of the alcohol in your blood. Making the other sleep functions, namely cell repair, lower on the priority list. Have you ever woken up with sore muscles after a night of overindulgence? Your body was too preoccupied with dispelling the alcohol that it didn’t have time to repair the muscle cells damaged during the day by movement. We love wineries and breweries as Woburn residents, but we know that drinking too much could affect our sleep. It’s best to visit these loved places several hours before you plan to go to bed and not to overindulge.

Establish a Sleep Routine

Establishing a sleep routine can be very beneficial for those who have trouble falling asleep. The theory behind this is that forming a routine will get your body in the habit of doing certain things at certain times. If you wake up and go to bed on a schedule, your body will know what is coming next and begin slowing down or waking up. Staying on a consistent cycle will regulate your circadian rhythm so that eventually, your body will know when it’s time to wake up and time to go to sleep. To aid in regulating your circadian rhythm, try to only sleep in your bed and avoid naps. Napping confuses your body, and it will be harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Reduce Blue Light Expose in the Evening

Blue light is the hardest for your eyes to block. In essence, it confuses your circadian rhythm making it harder for you to fall asleep, and blocks a hormone called melatonin, whose job is to make you tired. There are many sources of blue light in today’s world. From computers, phones, and TVs to fluorescent light bulbs, we are surrounded by it all day and far into the evening. To reduce your exposure to blue light before bed, try turning down the blue light setting on your computer, TV, and phone. Or, better yet, turn off the electronics two hours before bed and participate in a calming activity like reading. We know that binging The Witcher or Emily in Paris as you fall asleep is tempting, but try to watch these earlier in the evening or on a night that you can sleep in the following day.

Don’t Eat Too Late

Another tip to get better sleep is to avoid eating late in the evening. Eating food too late in the evening means that the muscles that digest our food have to keep working while they’re supposed to be resting and restoring for the next day. Eating too late also disrupts certain hormones making sleep more difficult. This is part of why the popular intermittent fasting diet helps you sleep. You only eat during certain hours of the day and stop eating hours before bed. Many of our favorite restaurants allow takeout but be wary about eating too late. Eat your meal at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

exhausted, tired woman at work falls asleep at her desk
Get Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you are practicing good sleep habits and are still experiencing poor quality sleep, you may need to be tested for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition where you stop breathing during the night. There are different forms of sleep apnea, but the most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, where sagging soft tissues block your throat. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you may be experiencing symptoms like

  • Loud snoring
  • Shortness of breath
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

You’re also at a higher risk of these conditions if you have sleep apnea.

  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Cognitive disruptions
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression and anxiety

As you can see, sleep apnea symptoms are similar to the symptoms of sleep deprivation. That’s because due to pauses in breathing, your brain wakes you up so you can resume breathing. You may not notice these awakenings, but they don’t allow you to get through your whole sleep cycle, causing sleep deprivation.

Luckily, you can treat sleep apnea and finally get a good night’s sleep. Call Dr. Ryan Clancy, the top sleep dentist in Woburn, MA. He and his team and Divine Smiles can help you get some sleep so you can’t stop experiencing the adverse effects and lower your risk for deadly chronic conditions. Getting sleep treatment at Divine Smiles is easy, and we’re accepting new patients all the time. Give us a call at (781) 396-8558 or schedule an appointment online; we are thrilled to improve your life through sleep treatment.

Check out some of our reviews and choose us for your sleep treatment. You’ll be glad you did.

By Ryan M. Clancy, DMD, MAGD, LVIF, FPFA, FIAPA | January 6th, 2022 | Sleep Apnea

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