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7 Steps to A Better Night’s Sleep

7 Steps to A Better Night’s Sleep
Do you ever toss and turn in your bed with a racing mind? It can be hard to turn “work mode” off when it is time to go home and relax. This fact is true for physicians who make critical decisions each day that directly affect the lives and well-being of others. Whether you are thinking about a patient from the previous day, a workplace problem or something else, not being able to fall asleep is especially frustrating when you need to be at your 100% self the next morning. Studies have reported, 27% of the population struggle with insomnia and 20% of those people take medication. Medication can make for a drowsy hang over and come with lousy side effects. In order to get the rest you need to be alert when you walk into the office, be sure you are following these 7 tips that confront the root cause of sleeplessness.

Develop sleep rituals It is important to give your body signals that it is time to slow down and rest. Those signals can be listening to relaxing music, reading something soothing for 15 minutes, having a cup of caffeine free tea or doing an evening meditation.  Along with these relaxing practices, waking up and going to bed at the same time every day will help your body develop its own internal rhythm.  By incorporating this ritual, you’ll reinforce a sleep rhythm that regularly cues for rest and awakening. Avoid taking naps Sometimes napping can throw the body’s rhythm off by confusing it.  When a person frequently takes long naps during the day, it sends mixed signals to the brain about when to rest and when to wake up.  Although you are most likely too busy during the day helping patients to even daydream about a nap, it is something to keep in mind. Resisting the urge to nap, even if tired during the day, will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, make sure the nap is less than one hour and before 3 pm. Create a quiet and comfortable sleep environment A room kept at extreme temperatures can be uncomfortable and make it hard for the body to rest.  A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended.  Similarly, varying light patterns in the night can be disruptive to sleep. Create a lighting and sound environment that is relaxing.  If light fills the room, recommend a blackout shade or a slumber mask. If noise is an issue, recommend earplugs or a "white noise" machine.  Conversely, if silence is an issue, recommend a little light relaxing music before bedtime. Use your bed only for sleeping and sex When using the bed for things other than sleep, it gives the brain mixed signals for what the bed is for. Refrain from watching television, eating or working in bed.  Another helpful practice is writing in a journal or reading, but it should be done in another place besides the bed. Of course, sex is the exception to this rule. Refrain from exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime While regular exercise helps to promote sleep, the timing of the workout is important. Exercise in the morning or early afternoon, to ensure sleep will not be interrupted by the residual catecholamine’s that are released during exercise. Avoid stimulants Be mindful of when you consume any substances containing stimulants as they interfere with falling and staying asleep. Whether it’s coffee, tea, soda, cocoa, chocolate or some prescription/non-prescription drugs, try to consume them 4-6 hours before bed to avoid disrupting sleep cycles. Sleeping Hungry? Sleeping on an empty stomach can interfere with sleep as well. Dairy products can help as they contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. You can try drinking a warm glass of milk to help give the body the cue that it’s time to rest.  Also be sure to eat a balanced meal for dinner that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. Be cautious, as having too full of a stomach can also inhibit sound sleep. So there you have it, the basics for ensuring your sleep cycles are supporting a good night’s sleep.  These may be things you already know, but it's good to have a reminder to ensure we are applying those things that we often ask of our patients. It can be very tempting to let your work slip into your home life, as it is a large part of your life. However in order to give your best efforts each day to your colleagues and patients, you have to remember to take some time to take care of yourself too. Make your work time, work time and rest time, rest time. Maiysha Clairborne, MDCopyright 9/1/2015

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Tuesday, 24 November 2020

The Stress Free Mom MD, Helping Women in Medicine Create the Life You Design