By Dr. Saraswathi Muppana

Sleep is one of the most important aspects in your overall health. Numerous studies have shown that ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping.

During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, good sleep also helps support growth and development and school performance. The importance of good quality sleep cannot be understated, and the questions below can help guide you on your way to better sleep.

What makes a good night’s sleep?

A quiet, dark, clean room free of blue lights (smartphones, digital alarm clocks, etc.) is the best sleep environment. It is healthy to fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of laying down. You should wake up feeling refreshed and be alert and productive throughout the day.

How much sleep should I get each night?

The amount of sleep that you should get each night changes with age and varies from person to person. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute states that adults should normally get an average of 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Inadequate sleep hygiene will affect your health. If you’re worried about whether you’re getting enough sleep, try using a sleep diary for a couple of weeks to track when you go to bed, fall asleep, wake up and get out of bed.

What could be the cause of my lack of sleep?

Sleep insufficiency may be caused by societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules. But sleep disorders such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia also play an important role. Experts suggest that you identify factors that may disrupt your sleep and take steps to eliminate these factors. Some potential factors to address may include maintaining a consistent sleep/wake pattern, regular exercise, presleep routines or going to sleep when you’re truly tired.

What can I do to improve my sleep habits?

Always consult your healthcare provider if problems with sleep persist. One recommendation is to keep a record of your sleep habits to discuss with your healthcare provider.

To ensure a healthy night’s sleep you should:

  • Stick to a regular sleep/wake schedule.
  • Avoid eating or drinking alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit daytime naps.
  • Create a bedtime ritual.
  • Manage stress.

Dr. Saraswathi Muppana is a pulmonologist/sleep specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth. To book an appointment with Dr. Muppana, call (508) 746-1072.

This article was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Health & Wealth.