The big question we all ask ourselves – am I getting enough sleep?
The national sleep foundation recommends adults get an average of 7-9 hours of sleep, with no less than 6 hours a night.
Teenagers, on the other hand, need upwards of 8-10 hours a night.
For many of us, there are just not enough hours in the day!
Whether you get just a few hours, or able to fit in a full 8 hours, bad sleep hygiene can be robbing you of precious hours of quality sleep.
What is sleep hygiene?
Short answer – good sleep habits.
Even simple activities like watching TV in bed, or playing games on your phone, can throw off your brain’s ability to know when it’s time to power down.
Making a few changes to your routine and daily sleep habits can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
How can I improve my sleep hygiene?
Sleeping in can actually do more harm than good.
By going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even weekends, you reinforce your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
Maintaining a regular schedule allows your body to adapt to your daily schedule, giving you more energy to get the day going.
With today’s technology, you can do anything and everything right from the comfort of your bed.
However, doing so can confuse your brain and cause it to forget to wind-down when it’s time to go to sleep.
Leave the work, studying, and movie nights to the couch and allow your bedroom to be a peaceful space.
Put The Phone Away
I know, it’s hard. It may be the hardest habit to break, but if you do, it can have a drastic improvement on your sleep and energy.
Screen use before bed can prolong how long it takes you to fall asleep, as well as suppressing melatonin secretion, a key hormone needed for sleep.
Some of us leave the TV on, some of us leave the lamp on to read; however, exposure to light reduces the amount of melatonin produced in the brain making it harder to fall asleep.
Around 30-60 minutes before bed, aim to keep your room as dim as possible and invest in some quality blackout curtains.
Still struggling with sleep?
Even with the best sleep habits, we all can still struggle to get a good night’s rest.
Below you will find a selection of over the counter supplements that have been shown to be beneficial, and may be an option for you, if you need additional help maximizing your sleep.
Melatonin – (initially 3mg) taken 30 minutes before bed has been shown to help patients fall asleep faster and improve the quality of their sleep.
Melatonin is also a great option for frequent travelers. Taking Melatonin 30 minutes before your new bedtime can reduce jet lag symptoms and improve sleep after traveling across time zones.
Valerian Root – An herbal supplement, when taken alone or as a component in a combination sleep product, has been shown to improve the quality of patients sleep with minimal side effects.
400-600mg of Valerian Root taken 1 hour before bed can be beneficial, but it may take 2-4 weeks for full effects. Taking a single dose as needed has no effect, so you will need to be consistent if you decide to use this product.
L-Tryptophan – Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in various protein containing foods. It gets broken down into several molecules including serotonin and melatonin, which are associated with sleep and mood regulation.
Increasing your intake of tryptophan, through diet or supplements, can increase melatonin production and improve sleep. Tryptophan rich foods include eggs, poultry, red meat, seafood, nuts, and even bananas!
Tryptophan supplements can also be taken as 1-4 grams at bedtime. For an added bonus, eating a light carb snack before bedtime can help your brain’s ability to uptake tryptophan.
How can Sona help?
If you are interested in learning more about ways to improve your sleep, please stop by Sona Pharmacy or call us at (828) 298-3636 to speak with one of our pharmacists.
We are more than happy to help you develop a plan to fit your sleep needs!
- Herxheimer A, Petrie Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001520. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001520.
- Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-10006312. Accessed 06/21/19.
- Facts & Comparisons. Wolters Kluwer. Indianapolis, IN.
- What is tryptophan. Sleep.org. https://www.sleep.org/articles/what-is-tryptophan/. Accessed 06/21/19.