Getting the proper amount of sleep plays a major role in our entire well-being. Those who are not receiving seven to eight hours of sleep each night on a consistent basis are putting themselves at risk for other health concerns and conditions. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can leave you physically and emotionally drained, and can have a serious effect on your overall health.
To aid in a good night’s sleep, it’s important to develop good sleep hygiene. The first step toward good sleep hygiene is establishing a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at consistent times each day. In the hours before bed, start shutting off the TV, cellphones and other electronics in the house and create a relaxing environment by doing things such as taking a shower or bath, and/or dimming the lights in the house. It is also important to monitor what you eat and drink before bed. Avoid drinking a lot of fluid before bed, as this will likely cause you to have to get up several times during the night to use the restroom. Spicy foods and substances such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can also make sleep extremely difficult—these should also be avoided before sleep time.
If you have tried methods to improve your sleep hygiene, yet are still experiencing difficulty sleeping, it may be time to talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study. A sleep study can help determine possible causes of sleep issues. In the past, medications were often prescribed to treat issues with sleeping. Now, medications are sometimes recommended; however, medication is now mostly used as a last resort or for specific cases where the individual’s safety is a concern, such as with someone experiencing night terrors. The vast majority of cases can be treated without medication. Annie Penn Sleep Disorders Center and Cone Health Sleep Disorders Center (next to Wesley Long Hospital) both offer home and in-lab sleep studies, and are dedicated to detecting sleep disorders and providing exceptional care to patients suffering from sleep disorders throughout the community. Leading the studies is an exceptional team of board-certified sleep medicine specialists, sleep technologists and respiratory therapists and state-of-the-art sleep monitoring equipment.
Ricardo Davis is a registered polysomnographic technologist at Cone Health Sleep Disorders Center. He also earned his clinical sleep educator certification by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) in May 2012. In addition, Ricardo is currently a candidate for a bachelor of science degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.