To mark National Self-Improvement Month, let’s talk about an often overlooked but vital aspect of our health: sleep. Here’s a stunning statistic: More than 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. The effects can have a strong impact on our physical and emotional health. In addition to making us feel tired and sluggish, the lack of proper sleep can affect our heart health and contribute to other physical and emotional complications.
When our bodies don’t get enough rest, we may experience anxiety, stress, and even depression. Difficulty managing everyday tasks and responsibilities can lead to physical injuries as well as challenges at home, in the office or at school, and with relationships.
Let’s look at some ways to modify our routines and environment to promote comfortable, consistent sleep:
- Cut the caffeine: Try to eliminate stimulants such as caffeine — found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and a variety of energy drinks — later in the day.
- Turn off electronic devices: Resist the temptation to check that last email or social media post. Electronic devices emit light at the blue wavelength, which causes our brains to think it’s daylight. This disrupts our natural sleeping patterns. So, set aside the smartphones and tablets, and turn away from the laptops and TVs at least two hours before bedtime. (Some devices now offer a nighttime mode that dims the screen.)
- Think cave dweller: A cool, dark, quiet room helps our bodies settle into deep sleep. If necessary, set up a portable fan to keep air circulating. Look for a fan with a timer option in case the room gets too cold during the night. Eye masks and ear plugs can be inexpensive yet effective sleep aids as well. (FunTip: Ear plugs come in a variety of densities to block different levels of sound. Start with the lowest level if you need to be able to hear important sounds such as alarms or children.)
- Sleep on schedule: Set an ideal time to fall asleep and wake up each day. Give yourself as close to eight to 10 hours as possible. Do your best to stick to this schedule every day of the week.
- Switch bath time: Some people rest better after an evening shower or bath, but it can be too stimulating for others. Pick a time that works best for you. Try bathing earlier in the evening — and give yourself at least an hour to cool down — or waiting until morning to shower.
Give yourself a couple of weeks to adapt to changes in your sleeping routine. If you’re still having trouble sleeping soundly and consistently, Teladoc’s licensed therapists may be able to help. We’re the largest, most trusted telehealth network in the country. With Teladoc you can
- make an appointment seven days a week
- talk with your therapist in the privacy and comfort of your home or office
- work with the same therapist throughout the course of your care
Teladoc provides treatment for the whole person, body and mind. If you’re having trouble wrestling away those restless nights, you’re #coveredwithteladoc.
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