March is national sleep awareness month. Over 40 million Americans are chronically ill with sleep disorders, conditions that can greatly affect quality of life, mental and physical abilities, and increase the risk of several health conditions, such as heart attack, diabetes, and stroke. Understanding the importance of a good night’s sleep is your overall health and wellness is in part, about identifying the sleep issues you have.
Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep through the night, or wake up feeling unrested? SSM Health family physician Dr. Nneka Ichoku says to try to incorporate the following habits into your sleep routine to feel better and improve your quality of life.
Set a Rhythm – Try to go to bed at the same time every evening. Set your alarm for approximately the same time every morning, even on weekends and holidays.
Get Physical – take a walk, ride a bike or get involved in some other type of moderate exercise for 30 minutes every day. This will help you relax and release muscle tension.
Cut Caffeine – A cup of coffee in the morning won’t keep you up at night. But avoid the caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolate, or soda within six hours of bedtime.
Avoid Nicotine – yet another reason not to smoke: nicotine is a stimulant and can make it difficult to fall asleep
Check Medication Side Effects – Prescription and nonprescription medications can often cause sleeplessness. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects for any medications you take.
Reduce Stress – It is impossible to eliminate all the stress from your life, but reducing stress with relaxation techniques, visualization, exercise and other techniques can make a world of difference in the quality of your sleep.
If you think you need help with your sleep habits, take this Sleep Risk Assessment to learn more about your risk condition.
For more information about SSM Health Sleep Services, click here.
The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.