Don’t forget to turn back the clock and maintain a healthy sleep every night

Summer time or “daylight saving time” as it is known in English, officially ends on Sunday at 2 in the morning. An extra hour of sleep can be a healthy thing for most of us. But it may not be of much help for those who suffer from sleep disorders and disrupted sleep cycles on a regular basis.

New research continues to reaffirm what sleep experts already know: Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can contribute to being overweight and worsen chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Not getting enough sleep has short-term effects on alertness and cognitive function. But in the long term, lack of sleep can lead to significant health problems. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any sleep problems you may be having so they can help you find a solution.

“A lot of times, you have to dig deeper into the patient and ask what time they go to bed on weekdays and weekends, how long they sleep, and ask questions about the quality of their sleep,” explains Harneet Walia, MD, director of medicine at the sleep and continuous improvement from Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. “So essentially the symptoms to recognize are daytime sleepiness, fatigue, impaired concentration, not being able to work well, and so on.”

How can nutrition and exercise improve sleep habits?

“The first thing we talk about is maintaining good sleep hygiene,” said Dr. Walia. “And a big part of it is diet and exercise. So we often tell people not to eat a heavy dinner too close to bedtime, to avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Because that can interrupt sleep in the latter part of the night. Avoid caffeine after meal times because it has a long half-life and can disrupt sleep.”

“And exercise is also helpful in promoting good sleep. Studies show that people who exercise, and in particular aerobic exercise, can fall asleep quickly and have a better quality of sleep. We don’t advise exercising close to bedtime because that can disrupt sleep. But diet and exercise can play a good role.”

Tips for healthy sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), taking the following steps can lead to a better night’s sleep and can also improve your overall health:

  • keep a schedule. Keep the same time for going to bed and waking up, even on the weekends if possible. This routine will help regulate your internal clock and may help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Practice a relaxing ritual at bedtime. A quiet, calming activity such as reading before bedtime is best if you move away from bright lights to separate bedtime from activities that may cause you excitement, stress, or anxiety. For this reason, computer screens or devices of any size should be avoided just before bedtime.
  • log out. Turn off televisions and computers, and put away tablets and cell phones, two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid napping in the middle of the day and especially in the afternoons. So-called short naps can help you last through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, cutting out those short naps can help.
  • exercise daily. Moderate-intensity exercise is best, according to the American Heart Association, and light exercise is better than no exercise at all. However, don’t exercise within four hours of bedtime. The first sign that the body is ready for sleep is a drop in body temperature. Exercise increases body temperature.
  • Evaluate your bedroom. Design your sleeping environment so that you can establish the best conditions for sound sleep. Your bedroom should be comfortably cool and free of any noise or lights that might disturb your sleep.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress with comfortable pillows. That may sound obvious but it is of the utmost importance. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and provides support for your body. The mattress you may have been using for years may have exceeded its useful life – about 9 or 10 years for most high-quality mattresses. Sleeping on comfortable pillows is also very important.

How much should sleep?

The NSF also makes the following widely accepted recommendations for getting the right amount of sleep:

Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14-17 hours a day.

Babies (4 to 11 months): 12-15 hours.

Small children (1 to 2 years): 11-14 hours.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old): 10-13 hours.

School-age children (6 to 13): 9-11 hours.

Teenagers (14 to 17): 8-10 hours.

Young adults (18 to 25): 7-9 hours.

Adults (26 to 64): 7-9 hours.

Seniors (65 years and over): 7-8 hours.

Tags: Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, healthy sleep

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