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Establishing Good Sleep Habits


When many people envision healthy habits, a balanced diet and physical activity come to mind. But did you know that sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle? Your sleep schedule can impact your overall health and even contribute to chronic and mental health conditions ranging from obesity to depression.

Changing your sleep schedule doesn’t happen overnight though – it’s important to build up to better habits that take place throughout your day. This will set you up for success come bedtime. Your primary care doctor or advanced practice provider* (APP) is a partner in your sleep journey and can help provide guidance on how much sleep you need, what lifestyle or health factors impact your sleep, and when a poor night’s sleep may be a symptom of a larger problem.

Understanding Your Sleep Needs

As we go through life, the amount of sleep we need changes. For adults, seven or more hours a night is recommended to wake up feeling refreshed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention though, one out of every three adults don’t meet this standard. This results in more than some extra yawning the next day. Getting enough sleep can often benefit your health. For example, research has found that better sleep can improve blood sugar control in people with type two diabetes.

Identifying Sleep Disorders

If you frequently have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling not rested, you may have a sleep disorder. Common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome. These disorders can significantly impact your quality of life and overall health if left untreated.

Your doctor or APP can evaluate your symptoms and may refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation if necessary. A sleep specialist can conduct a sleep study to diagnose any underlying sleep disorders and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Developing a Sleep Routine

Establishing a regular sleep routine is key to improving your sleep quality. This involves going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and may include activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

Before hitting your pillow, be sure to:

  • Follow a consistent sleep schedule – even on weekends. If you take naps, notice any impact they may have on your sleep at night and adjust as needed.

  • Stop scrolling and put away your phone to help your mind wind down. Consider an unplugged activity like reading to relax.

  • Realize you are what you eat – consuming caffeine and alcohol, as well as how late you’re eating, all have an impact on your sleep. For example, the Sleep Foundation found that moderate amounts of alcohol, which is two drinks for men and one for women, decreased sleep quality by 24%.

  • Manage stress by talking to your care team. They can recommend stress relief strategies such as exercise, therapy, or a medication plan to help you manage anxieties.

Monitoring Your Progress

Once you've implemented changes to improve your sleep habits, it's important to monitor your progress. If you feel like your sleep challenges go beyond the occasional restless night, you should speak to your doctor or APP about your risk for certain sleep disorders and help with tracking your sleep patterns to review the effectiveness of your sleep routine. From there, they can provide therapies, medicine, or treatments to help relieve your symptoms.

Make your sleep routine a priority as you deserve to feel well rested and ready for your day when you wake up each morning.

*An advanced practice provider is defined as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.