When it comes to getting a good night’s rest, not all sleep is created equal. Various elements factor into what constitutes restful sleep, and different people have different needs. So how do you know whether you’re really getting the rest you need? And what can you do to improve your sleep habits?
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night for optimum health. However, 20 percent of Americans report getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night.
"Sleep disorders are caused by many different factors, alone or in combination,” says Dr. Peter Manos, a Sleep Medicine specialist at Beaufort Memorial. “The most common sleep disorders I see are Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Insomnia and Restless Leg Syndrome.”
To understand sleep problems, it helps to first understand the sleep cycle.
Stage 1 is light sleep. This is when muscles begin to relax. In this stage, you can be awakened easily and muscles twitch occasionally.
Stage 2 is the official onset of sleep when you become disengaged from your surroundings and your heart rate and breathing are regular.
Stages 3 & 4 are the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep—necessary for feeling well rested and energetic the next day. If you’re sleeping through the night but still not waking up refreshed, you may not be getting adequate deep sleep. Talk to your doctor about whether a sleep study is necessary.
If you’re constantly tossing and turning at night, it may be time to revamp your bedroom as well as your nighttime routine.
Try these tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Treat your bedroom as a sanctuary. Invest in a comfortable bed with a quality mattress, soft sheets and supportive pillows. It’s worth it.
- Be sure your bedroom is dark when you go to bed. This includes TV screens and other electronics.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Allow yourself time to wind down before going to bed.
- If you get in bed and lie awake for more than 20 minutes, don’t force it. Get up and do something quietly until you start to feel sleepy.
- If noise is keeping you awake, try using a sound conditioner or earplugs to block it.
- Exercise regularly. As if you didn’t already have reason enough to work out, regular exercise, especially when done in the morning, can help you sleep. But avoid working out within three hours of bedtime, which can make it harder to drop off.
Dr. Manos has further advice for the sleep deprived. “Understanding the complete sleep history and daytime functional status are key components to identifying the most likely cause of your sleep disturbance. From there, further evaluation or testing is done so a diagnosis can be made and properly treated.”
Are you struggling to get a good night’s sleep? The Palmetto Pulmonary Medicine Sleep Disorders Laboratory is here to help! Just call 843-521-8484.