Statistics show that sleeplessness is becoming epidemic. According to The Good Body, a website dedicated to research and awareness of pain management and sleep optimization, one in four Americans develops insomnia each year — that’s 60 million of us.
For folks over the age of 60, that jumps to nearly 50% who suffer from this common form of sleep disorder that costs our country $63 billion annually from lost productivity. Insomnia is also one of the major contributing factors to deaths due to car accidents.
According to The Sleep Health Foundation, sleep is as important to our well-being as a healthy diet and exercise. Inadequate sleep can also cause or exacerbate anxiety and stress. The Sleep Health Foundation points out that a good night’s sleep helps fight off infection. “When sleep is of poor quality it can impair our immune response. In addition, poor sleep might result in ‘flare-ups’ of other chronic illnesses,” their experts point out.
Neurologist and sleep specialist Dr. Helene Emsellem, director of The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md., tells Newsmax that with the demands of modern day living, especially during the pandemic, and with increased use of technology, many people experience symptoms of insomnia ― typically waking up after four hours and not being able to fall back to sleep.
“We are also eating dinner later and unless you are in Paris preparing to dance until midnight, you need to allow at least two to three hours after your last meal before going to bed,” Emsellem, the author of “Snooze…or Lose!” reveals. “And it’s important to know your body and how it reacts to food. Eating certain foods before bedtime may trigger acid reflux or other physical reactions that wreak havoc with the sleep cycle.”
Here are more hazards to avoid before bedtime to ensure a restful night:
- Alcohol. While a couple glasses of wine may relax you, the cutoff point for imbibing should be 8 p.m., says Emsellem. Experts warn that alcohol disturbs the REM cycle of sleep, making you more likely to awaken during the second half of the night. REM ― rapid eye movement – sleep is the deep restorative stage of sleep when our short-term memory is processed.
- Caffeine. If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine, allow six hours between drinking a caffeinated beverage, or having chocolate, and bedtime, according to the Food Network. That is because caffeine blocks the sleep-inducing chemical adenosine, preventing you from getting your recommended amount of sleep. Some high-end chocolate bars contain as much as 26 milligrams of caffeine, almost as much as the amount in 12 ounces of caffeinated sodas.
- Surfing the web. According to WebMD, artificial light at night can interrupt your sleep. The blue light on smartphones is especially disturbing, say experts. Power down all electronic devices, including the television, two to three hours before retiring for bed.
- Too much heat. Being in a comfortable room is important for restful sleeping. The ideal room temperature is about 65 °F, according to Healthline. This helps regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm, allowing your body to cool down.
- Any noises. Things that beep, buzz, or chirp to alert you to messages will disrupt your sleep pattern. Keep these gadgets out of your bedroom or use a white noise machine or earplugs drown out noises.
- Arguments. According to WebMD, angry discussions late at night can trigger hormones that will keep you wide awake. Save the tough talks for daytime. Instead, establish a soothing nighttime routine by reading a book, taking a hot bath, listing to soft music, and doing some light stretching exercises to help you wind down.
- Consuming sugary foods. Giving into that sugar craving after 9 p.m. can give you a quick energy boost and delay your sleep. “Eating sugar and carbs at night is a bad move especially for those who are prediabetic or diabetic,” says Emsellem. Not only does sugar lead to poor sleep, it also affects calorie consumption the next day. When you do not get enough sleep, your body creates more of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite and cravings for fat and sugar.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.