better sleep tips

Better Sleep Creates a Healthier, Restored Mom

Getting adequate and quality sleep supports one’s mental and physical health. As we celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week, we want to remind moms and families about the value of getting a good night’s sleep, because better sleep = happier mama.

As a mom to two busy boys under age four, I know that poor sleep can affect my ability to stay focused and be productive.

The National Sleep Foundation poll revealed Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week and 62-percent try to “shake it off” rather than learn more about their sleep habits. As we balance life and potentially lose sleep, most of us are avoiding solutions that can be life-changing.

Think of it this way – if you are sleep-deficient, your ability to think, react, work and learn may negatively affect your relationships with others, including yourself.

Sleep experts encourage seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Some adults need more or less; however, we all must create a goal of being productive during the day and not requiring naps.

If you often feel sleepy and efforts to increase your nighttime sleep do not help, it is best to see a sleep specialist.


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Common Factors that Impact Sleep

factors that impact sleep

Many factors can affect sleep, including not getting enough sleep, sleeping at the wrong times, frequent disturbances while sleeping, not having a consistent schedule, and lying in bed if not actually sleeping.

Another consideration is a common medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea. This sleep disorder occurs when your airway relaxes and closes multiple times within one hour.

During this time, your oxygen drops, which makes your heart work harder and faster to compensate. If left untreated, it has been linked to chronic medical conditions such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, chronic lung disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and potentially an irregular heart rhythm.

10 Tips to Create a Calming Bedtime Routine

walking for better sleep

We have heard it time and again that creating a routine at bedtime supports getting a good night of sleep. Most of us likely do this for our children but may have not considered it for ourselves.

If you find yourself waking up often during the night or struggling to fall asleep, start with an assessment of your bedtime routine.

Begin with establishing a calming routine that includes some of the following tips.

  1. As you settle for bed create a calming environment by meditating, praying, listening to light music, and keeping noise low.
  2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or smoking 1-2 hours before bedtime begins.
  3. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time daily, including weekends.
  4. Check your bedroom temperature to ensure a cool surrounding that allows for peaceful sleep. It is recommended that your room be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Limit the use of electronics as part of the bedtime routine. If you must, play soft music or engage in a guided meditation.
  6. Ensure you have a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow.
  7. Check your lighting and begin dimming bright lights or create a blackout environment when you climb into bed.
  8. Avoid napping. We all envy our children’s naps and the occasional nap is fine but consistent naps can disrupt a quality night’s sleep.
  9. Limit heavy meals or large snacks just before bedtime. Try eating 2-3 hours before bedtime begins.
  10. Low-impact exercise has proven to help sleep quality. Try walking, swimming, or yoga.

If you still find yourself waking up often or restless during sleep, contact a sleep specialist to discuss in further detail what could be causing your sleep patterns to be harmful.  Obstructive sleep apnea can be part of the cause or other factors such as stress and anxiety related to the things happening in your life – work, family, community, etc.

Measuring Sleep Quality – Restful Nights Matter More than Hours

sleeping tips

You may feel you are getting enough sleep in terms of hours on the clock but if you wake up and are not refreshed or restored, the quality of your sleep may not be ideal. Consider these factors, supported by the National Sleep Foundation, when evaluating the quality of your sleep.

How long does it take you to fall asleep?

If less than 30 minutes, your sleep quality is good.

How often do you wake up at night?

This refers to brief moments of waking up but not being fully awake. Those that wake up once or not at all, experience restful, quality sleep.

How often are you fully awake at night?

If you are awake for 20-minutes or less, your sleep patterns will not be disrupted. For those that find themselves fully alert and awake for more than 20-minutes, they are often tired the next morning.

How much time do you spend sleeping?

If 85-percent or more of your time is spent sleeping, of the seven to nine hours recommended, you are getting plenty of quality sleep.

Still Sleepy?

Oftentimes individuals who are tired each morning contribute sleepiness to not getting enough sleep so they begin napping during the day.  A rare nap every so often is okay, but if you require a daily or multiple times a week nap, you should investigate more with your medical provider.

If you lack quality sleep at night, adjust your schedule to accommodate for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep and consider the 10 Tips for Creating a Calming Bedtime Routine.

If you or your family member is concerned about sleep patterns or feeling overly tired during the day, it is best to discuss with your provider. Some can improve sleep by establishing a new routine; whereas others may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

If you are experiencing mood changes, headaches in the morning that goes away, feeling tired during the day, taking a nap or wanting to take a nap if given the opportunity, trouble staying asleep or trouble falling asleep at night, frequent awakenings to use the bathroom, snoring, gasping and restless legs, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is treatable through a variety of options.

Finding Ways to Make Sleep a Priority

In closing, new parents, experienced parents, and even multi-family households have unique sleep habits. It is all about finding simple ways to prioritize your sleep quality so you wake up restored and ready for the day.

Thank you to Northern Nevada Health System for sponsoring this post on Better Sleep by Carrie Yamamoto Pulmonary and Sleep Nurse Practitioner. Read our disclosure.

NNMG

Northern Nevada Health System is a regional network of care that has elevated and improved access to healthcare for 40 years. The System operates two acute care hospitals located in Sparks and Reno, 24/7 freestanding emergency departments, a Medical Group which offers family and internal medicine, urgent care and specialty care, and Quail Surgical and Pain Management. NNHS is committed to maintaining and improving the well-being of the community and is known for top-rated patient satisfaction, in addition to providing quality care and a safe environment for patients to heal. To learn more, visit northernnevadahealth.com.