While most people will agree that sleep is of critical importance, only one in ten people prioritize it over other activities of daily life. Fitness, nutrition, work life, and hobbies all consistently take precedence over sleep for most individuals. While these aspects of life are also highly valued, sleep duration and sleep quality are key pieces of the puzzle that are routinely underemphasized in day-to-day life.
Signs of poor sleep include trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, frequent yawning, and irritability. If you experience these symptoms, it may be time to reevaluate your sleep patterns.
How do we improve sleep?
Planning your sleep schedule is key. Maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle that works specifically for you will help to maintain quality, uninterrupted sleep. An effective sleep routine is characterized by fixed wake and sleep times, regardless of the day of the week. It is important to prioritize sleep over squeezing in extra hours to work, socialize or exercise. Finding a sleep routine that works for you is a gradual process that may take time.
Some other things you can do to ensure you maintain a quality sleep routine is:
- Find a relaxing pre-bedtime routine like reading, stretching, or listening to relaxing music for 15-30 minutes before your scheduled sleep time.
- Create a relaxing and comfortable bedroom environment.
- Unplug from electronics prior to sleep.
- Block out light and noise.
- Cut down on caffeine later in the evening.
Amy James MS, RDN, LD