NYACK, N.Y. -- In today's busy world, getting enough sleep can sometimes seem like a luxury. However, sufficient sleep is an important part of physical wellness, and a lack of rest can trigger a host of related illnesses. As Nyack Hospital celebrates Better Sleep Month this May, doctors are touting the health benefits of a good night's rest, and working to improve the health, mood and productivity of Rockland County residents.
"Being short on sleep can make you less alert, impair your memory, put stress on relationships and increase your risk of car accidents," said Dr. Anita Bhola, director of Sleep Medicine at Nyack Hospital. "Long-term health problems related to sleep deficiency include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. It can also contribute to obesity, depression and lower sex drive."
To help yourself fall asleep faster and wake up feeling rested, she suggested following these tips:
Develop a schedule -- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This keeps your biological clock in sync. You can’t make up for a week of skimpy sleep by sleeping in on the weekend.
Establish a nighttime routine -- Help your body settle down each night. Choose relaxing activities, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath.
Get dark -- Sleeping in a cool, quiet, dark room, on a comfortable, supportive mattress is very important.
Power down -- Electronics, including TVs, laptops and smartphones, should be kept out of the bedroom.
Stay fit -- Exercising regularly and avoiding caffeine and alcohol late in the day can help ensure our bodies are ready for sleep.
Spring's seasonal allergies can also present a problem when trying to sleep. "Allergies can cause stuffy noses, itchy eyes and sinus irritations which make it difficult to breath, and that can keep you up," said Bhola. "Some antihistamines can affect sleep, and although they cause initial drowsiness, may actually impair sleep quality." To eliminate pollen, she recommended closing all windows and sleeping with an air conditioner on. Taking a shower at night to wash pollen from hair, nose and eyes and sleeping with an air purifier may also help.
"If you feel you are getting enough sleep, but you still feel sleepy during the day, talk with your doctor about whether you may have a medical condition that is interfering with your quality of sleep," said Bhota.
For more information on the sleep medicine services offered by Nyack Hospital, click here.