Healthier Me: Paying Off Your Sleep Debt - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Healthier Me: Paying Off Your Sleep Debt

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  If paying off your credit card debt is your New Year's resolution-- you might want to add another type of debt to your list. Doctors say people need to do a better job of managing their "sleep" debt.

  Sanford Health sleep specialist, Dr. Samy Karaz says people need between 8-8.5 hours of sleep every night. He says a lot of people need more, but very few need less than that. Dr. Karaz says our bodies, specifically our brains need to sleep to perform properly.

  Dr. Karaz says our brains do not forgive the time lost and we carry sleep debt. He says if you short yourself an hour a night, by the end of the week, it's like you missed a while night's sleep.

   You can pay off that debt by taking naps and catching up on sleep on the weekends. Dr. Karaz says "it's like a credit card." He says you are paying interest, but you can pay off most of your debt if you work at it.


How to Sleep Better

Courtesy: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Common Sleep Problem Areas

-Caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the brain and interferes with sleep. Try to use caffeine as needed to help with tiredness in the morning. Regular use during the day can lead to sleep problems at night. 

  If you are having trouble falling asleep, you should not drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, about the amount in 2 cups of coffee. Avoid any caffeine after lunch.

(Common sources of caffeine: Coffee, Tea, Soft Drinks, Energy drinks, Chocolate, Medicines)

-Nicotine: Nicotine stimulates the brain, causes you to have trouble falling asleep, and can make your sleep worse. Tobacco products, like cigarettes and chewing tobacco, contain large quantities of nicotine. If you quit smoking, your sleep may be worse while you are in withdrawl. After your body adjusts, you will fall asleep faster and wake up less during the night.

-Alcohol: If you drink alcohol around bedtime, it may help you fall asleep since it slows brain activity. However, alcohol is bad for your sleep. It can make you wake up during the night and give you nightmares. You may also have a headache the next morning. Avoid alcohol within 4-6 hours of bedtime.

-Food: Eating too close to bedtime, heavy meals, or foods that upset your stomach can negatively affect your sleep. Some people find a light snack at bedtime helps them sleep.

-Exercise: Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Time your exercise to end over 6 hours before your bedtime to avoid trouble sleeping. Boredom and too little physical activity during the day can make it harder to fall asleep. Talk with your health care provider before beginning a program.

-Electronic Devices: The artificial light generated by a laptop, tablet, or cell phone screen can interfere with your body's sleepiness cues. Turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

How to Create a Good Sleeping Environment

-Make sure you have a comfortable bed in a dark, quiet room.

   -Is your room to bright? Try blackout curtains or an eye mask.

   -Is your room too noisy? Try a white noise machine or earplugs.

   -Is your room too hot or too cold? In general, having a room temperature around 68 degrees  is best for sleep. However, different people prefer hotter or colder rooms, so adjust the temperature if you are uncomfortable.


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