It may be time to clean up your sleep hygiene. Sanford Health doctors say sleep hygiene is a term used to include just about anything related to your sleep habits. And, that includes putting down your cell phone.
Whether you occasionally have difficulty sleeping or suffer from insomnia, there is a lot you can do to get a better night's sleep. Doctors say practicing good "sleep hygiene" is about the practices, habits, and environmental factors that are critically important for sound sleep. And most of it is under your control.
Sanford Health Sleep Medicine Dr. Saif Mashaqi says there are some simple steps to follow to clean up poor sleep hygiene:
(1) Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
(2) Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and a relaxing environment.
(3) Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping.
(4) That includes keeping electronics out of the bedroom. TVs, computers and those addicting smartphones can cause some real problems when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.
Research has demonstrated that nighttime light exposure suppresses the production of melatonin, the major hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles. Dr. Saif Mashaqi says, "they think if the light is off -- that's enough." He adds, "that is not enough, because if you are holding a device that is a source of light that antagonizes the action of melatonin."
Dr. Mashaqi says it's also important not to grab the phone or tablet if you wake up in the middle of the night to help go back to sleep. A lot of people think it will help put them back to sleep, but doctors say you should actually get out of bed and go into another room that is dark until you feel sleepy again - the get back in bed.
Doctors say if you feel like you suffer from sleep apnea, which is when breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep, you should see a doctor. That needs to be treated by a doctor -- and requires more than cleaning up your sleep hygiene. A sleep study can help you determine that.