Ask a Sleep Expert: Tips on Getting a Successful Snooze

Good sleep is more important to physical health than you may expect, linked to an increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

With Better Sleep Month just around the corner, we caught up with David Sholes, manager of Neurodiagnostics at Tucson Medical Center.

Why should I worry about whether I get rest? It’s not going to make me sick or anything, right?

“Sleep in our culture is entirely under-rated. People think it’s more of an inconvenience than a true health concern, which is alarming.”

You read about “good sleep hygiene.” What’s that all about?

“By keeping a regular routine, your body knows what time to go to sleep and what time to wake up, and is more likely to transition through the necessary four stages of sleep without interruption.”

Any tips on getting a good night’s sleep? 

“It’s a good idea to:

  • keep the room cool
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine, including chocolate, within five hours of bedtime
  • avoid going to bed on an empty stomach
  • finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime

And even though this is one of my least popular tips: Keep pets out of the bed and make sure that the television stays off during sleep time.”

What if I can’t fall asleep?

“If you can’t fall asleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do some other relaxing activity rather than stew over your inability to sleep.”

Can you reverse lost sleep by trying to cram it in on the weekends?

“It takes the average person three days to rebound from one night of sleep deprivation. In a weekend, you’re never going to recover at that rate. You’re better off just keeping a reasonable schedule.”

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