Last week, Wellness Insider highlighted the National Sleep Foundation’s poll on sleep and ethnicity, and listed ways to ensure a restful sleep. This week, we’re offering an extra dose of advice on how to sleep better and boost your work performance.
“Sleep is as important as diet and exercise to a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Craig Schwimmer, MPH, an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) and medical director of The Snoring Center in Dallas. “If you have to go through a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and a shower to wake up, then you’re not getting enough sleep.”
Schwimmer’s tips for healthful sleep:
- You’ve probably heard this one before, but it bears repeating: Use the bed only for sleep and sex.
- If you are in bed for 30 minutes and are still awake, get up and do something else. Make sure it’s not a stressful or stimulating activity like paying bills, heavy exercise, or watching TV. Light reading, gentle stretching, or warm milk should help you.
- Get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Have a bedtime ritual. Your mom or dad probably tucked you in and read you a story, so do an adult variation of that. “A lot of the things we do for kids, we forget to do for ourselves,” Schwimmer says. A warm bath, pleasure reading, light stretching, or a cup of tea are among things that can help you wind down.
- What if you’ve done all of the above but you’re still having trouble sleeping? “Ideally, talk to your doc,” Schwimmer says. Your physician should be able to help you determine whether your problem is something more, like a sleep disorder. Schwimmer’s center, for example, specializes in treating snoring and sleep apnea, an illness for which being African American is a risk factor, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Depending on your symptoms, other sleep disorders your doctor may screen for include insomnia and restless legs syndrome.
But there’s one other person you should consult–your spouse or significant other, because they could be affecting your sleep. For example, if your spouse only needs seven hours of sleep but you need eight, your spouse should respect your need for extra sleep. “If one is an early bird but the other a night owl, some accommodations need to be made,” remarks Schwimmer.
For specific insight on sleep and the corporate world, read: