(KUTV) Diet and exercise are not the only things necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle – sleep is just as important. For Marcel Davis, sleep problems have been a part of his life ever since he was a child. He remembers struggling to stay away during school and church which eventually led him to seek help at a sleep clinic years later.
“They diagnosed me with what’s called hypersomnia,” says Marcel.
In simple terms, hypersomnia means excessive daytime sleepiness. He started on medication, but after several years it wasn’t working as effectively.
“I realized medication isn’t the solution. It’s a Band-Aid, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” says Marcel.
Twelve years after his first visit to a sleep clinic he returned to try and find some sleep solutions.
“It turns out he was having no issues falling asleep but rather waking up multiple times and having difficulties going back to sleep,” says Scott Schauss, PA-C at the Riverton Hospital Sleep Disorders Clinic.
Marcel was likely only getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night which is much less than the recommended 7-9. Not getting enough sleep is a common problem among many adults and kids. Not only is quantity of sleep important, but quality should also be a focus.
“What they do before bed and before going to sleep is so crucial in creating a healthy sleep environment,” says Schauss.
For Marcel this meat sticking to a routine. He now makes sure to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day – even on the weekends. He also manages to fit in a 15-20 minute power nap once or twice a day.
Other ways to clean up your sleep hygiene and improve your quality of sleep include:
• Avoid caffeine at least 6-8 hours before bedtime
• Avoid nicotine products at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
• Avoid alcohol at least 3-4 hours before going to bed. Alcohol interrupts the natural sleep pattern and leads to more fragmented sleep
• Sleep medications are effective but only temporarily and come with their own set of risks. Keep the use of sleeping pills infrequent unless otherwise directed by your physician
• Exercise regularly
• Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and somewhat cool in temperature
• Avoid large meals before bed
• If you nap during the day, schedule it before 3:00 p.m. and limit it to 15-30 minutes
• Give yourself at least an hour to unwind prior to going to bed
• Establish a calming bedtime routine that includes activities you find relaxing
• Avoid screen time at least 2 hours before bedtime – especially anything involving “blue light”
One of the biggest culprits to poor sleep is “blue light” before bedtime. If you have to be on your phone during the evening, turn your phone to “night shift” mode or invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. This removes the blue light that typically tells the body to “wake up.”
If you notice that you snore, are tired during the day, or have trouble falling asleep – now is the time to make sleep a priority.
“If it’s taking longer than 10-15 minutes to fall asleep on a nightly basis on average then there could be an issue with that,” says Schauss.