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Getting the Z’s You Need: A Message About Sleep Hygiene From Our Sleep-Deprived Student Pharmacist, Amy Reed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. From a study in 2009, 35.3% of adults reported getting less than 7 hours of sleep nightly. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that healthy adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per day, and school-age children might require 10–11 hours of sleep.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a predisposition to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and obesity. Lack of sleep can also lead to nodding off in the middle of the day or even falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle. The National Department of Transportation estimates drowsy driving to be responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually in the United States.

So what are some things that you can do to ensure a good night’s sleep every night of the week?

  • Go to bed around the same time each night. Adjust to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on the weekends.
  • Get regular exercise, but NOT right before bedtime. Your body will need to calm down after a vigorous workout, which can make it difficult to fall asleep right away.  If you only have time to exercise at night, try gentle exercises like yoga/stretching.
  • Do not eat a large meal or forget to eat before bed. Eating a heavy meal before bed is not a great idea since your stomach will be active for several hours to digest all of its contents. But an empty stomach can also make it hard to fall asleep. If you are hungry and it is close to bedtime, try eating a low calorie snack with little to no sugars (yogurt, veggies, pretzels, etc.).
  • Do not take naps. If you must nap, make sure that it is only for about 15-30 minutes in the early afternoon (not too close to when you normally go to sleep).
  • Do not drink alcohol after dinner. It may help you fall asleep, but when the alcohol wears off you may become restless and wake up.
  • Avoid tobacco and caffeine close to bedtime. If possible, do not consume caffeinated beverages within 8 hours of going to bed.
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed. If you have something on your mind or something that you need to do, write it down and deal with it tomorrow.
  • Avoid working/studying/watching TV in bed. Reserve the bedroom for sleep.
  • Try to wind down at the end of the day. Do not do household chores or work right before bed. Give your body an hour to slow down and prepare for rest. Quiet activities, like reading, will help you to relax. Turn off electronic devices with screens; these lights can keep your body in an awake-state rather than calming you down.
  • Make sure you are sleeping in a relaxing environment. A good bedroom environment is quiet, dark, and not too hot or too cold.

Sweet dreams!

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