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How to get a good night’s sleep

By The Health News Team | December 15, 2023
Woman waking up

Sleep plays a pivotal role in so many aspects of our health, from keeping our minds strong to warding off illness and disease. Unfortunately, many people fail to get the sleep they need, and an estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. have a sleep disorder.

According to Dr. Ari Laliotis, a board-certified internal medicine and sleep medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, it's important that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night — and the quality of that sleep is crucial.

“Quality sleep is more than just getting an adequate amount of sleep,” Dr. Laliotis says. “If your sleep is interrupted and you’re waking up a lot, you’re not going to progress through the various stages of sleep needed for it to be restorative.”

The importance of — and barriers to — deep sleep

Deep sleep is the stage of sleep you need to feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning. It is approximately 13% to 23% of your total sleep and is necessary to:

  • Restore energy

  • Regenerate cells

  • Increase blood supply to muscles

  • Promote growth and repair of tissues and bones

  • Strengthen the immune system

  • Consolidate memories

  • Improve resiliency

There are a variety of factors that can affect sleep. Dr. Laliotis advises that chemicals such as alcohol, caffeine, certain medications, smoking and extreme temperatures can be sleep-stealing culprits as well.

“Substances like caffeine and nicotine can directly affect your ability to fall asleep or get into deeper stages of sleep,” he says. “Drinking alcohol will suppress REM sleep and can often leave you wide awake in the middle of the night when it wears off.”

Tips to get deep sleep

To combat sleep challenges, Dr. Laliotis recommends people first take a look at their sleep schedule and make efforts to maintain a routine that allows for adequate total sleep time every night.

“I typically recommend maintaining a consistent sleep schedule,” Dr. Laliotis says. "Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. By keeping your timing consistent, you’re essentially training your circadian rhythm — your body’s natural internal clock — to go to sleep and wake up at appropriate times.”

He offers these additional tips to achieve quality sleep:

  • Exercise every day.

    Aerobic activities, such as cycling, running and swimming, can help you achieve more deep sleep, but try to avoid exercising during the hours right before going to bed.

  • Clear your mind before bedtime.

    Make a to-do list early in the evening, so you won’t stay awake in bed worrying about the next day.

  • Create a healthy sleep environment.

    Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable, turn down the lights, avoid distracting sounds and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

  • Relax.

    Before bed, take a warm bath, read or do another relaxing activity to help you wind down.

  • Avoid using electronic devices right before bed.

    Unless you have the intensity down and blue light filters on, any other relaxing activity — yoga, deep breathing, listening to music — is preferable.

“A warm bath or shower an hour or two before bedtime can also improve your sleep,” Dr. Laliotis says. “This is partly because a warm bath can help us relax, but also because our body temperature tends to drop after a warm bath, which can induce better sleep.”

If these steps don’t help, and you find yourself having trouble falling or staying asleep, or you are feeling extra drowsy during the day, Dr. Laliotis encourages you to talk with your doctor. There are many treatments available for sleep disorders.

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