Are You Sleeping in America?

The National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) annual Sleep in America™ poll released March 7 reports that about two-thirds or 63% of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. To help, turn these off: television, video game, computer or cell phone. They’re considered sleep-disruptive devices, especially if used in the hour before bed. Almost everyone surveyed, or 95%, uses some type of electronics, says NSF.

“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” says study task force member Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Doctors frequently hear complaints about lack of sleep. Try NSF’s tips to sweeter dreams, without using medication:

  • Set and stick to a sleep schedule.
  • Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and avoid it at night.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Create a cool, comfortable sleeping environment that is free of distractions.
  • Treat your bed as your sanctuary from the stresses of the day.
  • If you wake up because of worries, write them down with an action plan, and forget about them until morning.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, chocolate and tobacco at night.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages right before bedtime.
  • No alcohol nightcaps.
  • Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep.
  • No late-afternoon or evening naps, unless you work nights.

Better sleep means a better you—at all times.