Sleep Hygiene: Tips for Improving your Sleep

I am so thankful to welcome June with you after so much illness, struggle and sadness in our country over the last couple of months.   June brings the warmth and strength of summer and gifts of Fathers’ Day.   June is also a time when some of the quarantine restrictions are partially relaxed as individuals,  families and communities find a new sense of normalcy.    Hopefully, you remain protective of your health practices due to the risks of the  COVID-19 pandemic – still wearing your masks in public, washing your hands,  and maintaining your social distancing parameters.     

Harmony’s Team is dedicated to assisting you and supporting your health care and fall prevention through Healthcare Solutions which includes helping you to stay healthy and active,  but also to make sure you are getting enough rest – enough sleep.   

So, answer this question:  How are you sleeping?

Harmony’s Team wants you to sleep well,  because sleeping well improves your health and well-being and decreases your fall risks.  The stress of these uncertain time and worries about your health can affect your ability to get enough sleep.   For adults,  the recommended duration of sleep is 7-8 hours per night (Taylor, 2020).   However,  a recent poll completed by the National Sleep Foundation reported that Americans only get about 6 hours of sleep per night.   Older adults spend less time in deep sleep, and thus many older adults have less quality sleep.  Less quality sleep can result  in problems with attentiveness,  memory disturbances, changes in mobility (balance and gait) as discussed by the National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) toolkit:  A good night’s sleep, located  here .  Sleep deficits are both a risk for obesity (Taylor, 2020), falls   (Min, Nadpara, & Slattum, 2016), and other health problems (NIA).  The most common adult sleep disorder is insomnia (trouble falling asleep and staying asleep), followed by sleep apnea (pauses in breathing while sleeping).  But there are other problems, such as sleeping too much, nocturia (frequent urination at night), or restless leg syndrome.

Research findings confirm that disturbances during sleep decreases your capability to control your posture and your balance – people may feel a little dizzy,  have trouble controlling posture and balance (Montesinos,  Castaldo,  Cappuccio, & Pecchia, 2018)

The National Institute on Aging’s  suggestions to help you to have a good night’s sleep include:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule;
  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening;
  • Develop a bedtime routine;
  • Try not to watch TV or use your computer, cell phone, or table in the bedroom;
  • Use low lighting in the evenings;
  • Exercise at regular times of each day;
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime;
  • Stay away from caffeine last in the day; and,
  • Remember that alcohol won’t help you sleep

For more information about these steps,  please refer to their information site:   

(NIA: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep)

Have you heard of Sleep Hygiene?  Sleep Hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits:

“a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep” (AASM, Health Sleep Habits). Considerable research has been conducted to develop guidelines and tips for you to help improve your sleep,  while eliminating the use of sleeping pills that can prolong sleeping problems and further increase your risk of falls.    For example, the CDC has a very helpful tips sheet that you can review, sleep tips, compare the tips to the current practices that you do  or do not have in-place.   Continue the good tips that  you are doing, but the ones you are not,  make a list and start to develop a plan to improve your good sleep habits.

For even more tips,  CDC has provided you more information about sleep disorders by category and healthy sleep habits from the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep: Sleep Education.  Also, the National Sleep Foundation has resources,  and suggests as part of their strategies to “write out your worries”  to help you  before you fall asleep.

I hope you will take some time and explore these resources provided for you.  As you discover opportunities to improve your sleep and rest,  have an open discussion with your Harmony Team and your healthcare provider.   Together,   develop a plan for you to get started  implementing strategies that will help you sleep better,  reduce your fall risks,  and improve your health and well-being.   These strategies will help you with lifestyle changes and even relaxation, the first strategies you can make to reduce sleeplessness.   But, if you are still not getting enough rest,  talk with your provider  who will help determine if there are underlying health concerns that require medical management.

As always, Your Harmony Team and Healthcare Providers are dedicated to your health, wellness, function and safety.

Stay strong,  active,  and connected with your healthcare team.   We are improving our health, function and safety together.

Your Harmony Team is here to help you!    

Thank you for reading this message and in advance for sharing with others.

Pat Quigley

References:

American Alliance for Healthy Sleep.  Sleep education: Healthy sleep habits.   http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits

Accessed June 5, 2020.

CDC. Tips for Better Sleep:     https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html

accessed June 5, 2020

Montesinos, L., Castaldo, R.,  Cappuccio, F.P., & Pecchia, L.  (2018). Day-to-day variations in sleep quality affect standing balance in healthy adultsScientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-36053-4

Min, Y., Nadpara, P.A., & Slattum, P.W. (2016).   The association between sleep problems , sleep medication use, and falls in community-dwelling older adults:  Results from the Health and Retirement Study 2010.   Journal of Aging Research,  Article ID 3685789 | 10 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/3685789

Available: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jar/2016/3685789/

accessed June 5, 2020.

Taylor, J. (2020).  Looking beyond lifestyle:   A comprehensive approach to treatment of obesity in the primary care setting.   The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 16:  74-78.

National Sleep Foundation.  Sleep.org.  https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-to-fall-asleep/

Accessed June 5, 2020

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