LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Making resolutions at the start of every new year is easy to do but not so easy to keep. In today’s edition of Healthy Habits, 8 News Now takes an in-depth look into the challenge of getting a restful night’s sleep and how to train yourself to achieve this with some consistent steps.
“Sleep is essential to human life. It supports every organ system in our body; we definitely wouldn’t survive without,” Dr. Shantha Gowda, Psychologist and a board-certified Sleep Behavior Specialist, says.
HEALING DURING REST
Dr. Gowda says bodies and brains perform critical healing during rest at night, and it is during when the human brain removes a lot of waste and toxins.
“There’s a link between poor sleep and cancer as well as the hormones and chemicals in our body are related to appetite are impacted by our sleep,” Dr. Gowda adds.
HOW MANY HOURS OF SLEEP SHOULD YOU GET?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults, but let’s face it, that’s not always easy to achieve. So, can you train yourself to be a good sleeper? Dr. Gowda says yes.
“I think when people are focusing on getting good sleep, they tend to think about what am I doing around bedtime or in the middle of the night or in the morning? And I like to remind people to think about ‘what am I really doing during the day?’,” Dr. Gowda says.
THE LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, SUNLIGHT AND SLEEP
Dr. Gowda also adds that one of the things she promotes heavily is physical activity and exposure to sunlight.
She says getting sunlight in the morning sets our internal master clock to keep us awake and alert during the day. But notes the importance of taking in the sunset to wind down for bed.
This is why the dim light is so important because it sends a signal to our clock that it is evening time, the sun is setting, it’s time to wind down, and it sends an alert to our pineal gland that releases melatonin a couple of hours before bedtime.
BLUE LIGHT CONFUSES YOUR MASTER CLOCK
Gowda adds that crucial melatonin to help us sleep can be stifled by the bright blue light of our tech devices too late at night. The blue light is that ray of sunlight that alerts and tells our master clock to be awake. And unfortunately, a lot of our devices led lights, all of that has a lot of blue light.
HUNGRY BEFORE BEDTIME?
Gowda also warns to avoid heavy meals several hours before bed but to have a little protein or a banana if you’re hungry. And make an educated decision on alcohol.
“One drink was shown to impact your sleep at night – even just one drink at dinner can change how you naturally cycle through your sleep,” says Dr. Gowda.
CREATE A DESIRABLE, RESTFUL ENVIRONMENT
Gowda says good sleep can come when you create a desirable, restful environment.
“Set yourself up for success in your bedroom. Take some time to declutter. Let it be a room that you’re excited to go to and not a room where you’re thinking, ‘oh, I haven’t put the laundry away,'” adds Dr. Gowda.
Ensure that it’s tranquil and dark, whether installing black-out shades, using an eye mask, or a white noise machine to cover up any noise from the outside or the neighbors.
Shantha also says to keep the bedroom temp between 62 and 68 degrees, also nd if you have to get up during the night or have times when you wake up, avoid looking at the clock! It just makes you anxious and harder to fall back to sleep.
See a sleep therapist if you have severe sleep issues like insomnia that don’t get resolved. For more on sleep training and your health visit ThinkSleep.org or see your family doctor.