Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

How to ensure you get a good nights sleep

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Sep 6, 2017 4:45 PM

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, only about six percent of people have true insomnia where the lack of the ability to sleep normally persists for longer than a month. Nearly everyone has had a few sleepless nights, but a trend of poor sleep is often caused by a medical problem such as sleep apnea. Getting a good night's sleep begins with your day as well as where you sleep.

Caffeine Fiends

If your day starts with a stimulant, it may not be all bad. However, if you get through your day only if energy drinks or a coffee pot are nearby, then there is a problem. Caffeine persists in your body for at least 12 hours. If you are planning to be asleep by 11 PM, you need to halt all caffeine intake by 11 AM. Your afternoon or after-dinner cup of coffee or tea can ruin the quality of your sleep.

Blue Light at Twilight

If humans had not harnessed the power of the electron, you might be sleeping better. Artificial light confuses your body's internal clock. The blue wavelengths of light coming from bulbs and screens can make it so your body thinks it should still be wide awake and active because it is still appears to be daylight. Your pineal gland controls melatonin, for sleep, based on info it receives from your retina about ambient light levels. For a better night's sleep, turn off the screens and dim the lights some time before bedtime.

Cool Off

Your body temperature begins to drop as it prepares for sleep. A Stanford article studying the body temperature drop at bedtime mentions how a hot bath about 90 minutes before your normal bedtime may help you sleep better. The theory is that the rapid cooling off after getting out of the tub will help your body get ready for sleep. Your room should be cool, but not cold. According to a Time Magazine article about sleeping in cool bedrooms, you need to find a balance between a cool air temperature and comfortable skin temperature to not have your skin's blood vessels narrow because of the coolness. Try setting the thermostat to 65 degrees and getting under your favorite blanket, sheet or comforter for a few nights.

Get a New Bed

Comfort is a combination of subjective and objective. If your bed does not feel right night after night, then there is a problem even if you cannot apply objective terms to what is actually wrong with the bed. Most people can, like Goldilocks, readily say that their beds are too hard or too soft. However, it may be more than that. Movement from your spouse may transfer to your side. Even odors from the materials your mattress is made out of could affect your sleep quality. Before you decide on what materials your new bed should be made of, you should look at what consumers are saying about their experiences with the best and worst mattresses on the market.

If you are having trouble sleeping, tell your doctor. Find out if you have a medical condition that is inhibiting restful sleep. Everything from your dietary habits to your exercise and work routines should be examined. A sleep study can reveal obstructive or central sleep apnea. Even clogged sinuses could cause you to wake up. Bedtime should be dark, quiet and in a room that is cool but not cold. Your bed should feel luxuriously comfortable to you. Also, try to avoid sleep medications if at all possible. They are not a long-term solution, and can leave you with unwanted side effects.

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