A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is as vital to health as eating or breathing, says Dr. Jana Loveless, sleep specialist at Oklahoma Heart Institute.
“Your body will force you to sleep,” says Loveless. “The problem is your body might force you to have microsleep episodes while you’re driving or performing other hazardous activities.”
Adults need seven to nine hours a night, she says.
“We tend to not allow sufficient time,” adds Loveless. “It is much too common to sacrifice sleep for other things.”
Extended sleep deprivation is likely to impact many aspects of life, from vigilance and memory to hand and eye coordination. Studies consistently find that the less sleep a person gets over time, the more he or she will be impacted.
“Researchers never saw the test results plateau,” shares Loveless. “The results continued to worsen with deprivation.”
Loveless offers several tips for the best possible night of sleep.
“You need to have good sleep hygiene,” she says. “Aerobic exercise improves sleep quality and quantity. Stop caffeine a minimum of four hours before bedtime.”
While alcohol may seem like a sleep aid, Loveless says that is not true.
“The first half of the night will have more relaxed sleep, but [during] the second half of the night, sleep is much more fragmented [after alcohol consumption],” explains Loveless. “The net effect is much worse sleep quality and quantity.”
A good routine leads to better sleep. A stable wake time will allow the body to get sleepy at an appropriate time, says Loveless.
“We tend to delay wake time on weekends, which can severely impact our ability to initiate sleep for several nights after,” says Loveless. “We sleep best when our environment is dark, quiet and cool. Avoid TV or computers before bedtime.”