CDC: 46 States Experiencing Flu Outbreak

Combat Flu With These 5 Sleep Hygiene Tips

Getting back to a normal pace after the holiday season can sometimes be difficult. To make matters worse, the CDC has reported that 46 states are experiencing a flu outbreak. Maintaining healthy sleep hygiene is a great way to remain healthy this time of the year.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

The behaviors that affect the quality of a person’s sleep are collectively known as that person’s sleep hygiene. These habits occur before, during and after time spent in bed. While the recent holidays may have thrown off your previous schedule, it is best for your mind and body to return to those sleeping habits.

For most people, falling asleep and staying asleep comes naturally. There are certain lifestyle and dietary habits that promote sound sleep. And it is possible those habits were instilled by parents to children. Others may have figured out through trial and error what habits work best for them.

But many people have to be more intentional with their actions. If sound sleep is elusive, try the techniques suggested here. They may help you sleep better on a regular basis.

What is causing me to sleep poorly?

1. Stress

It is no secret that any sleep problems are caused by stress. What’s surprising is that it may not be caused by current stress. When someone is dealing with stress, they may start to develop certain strategies counterproductive to effective sleep. A stressed person may partake in regular napping, excessive use of caffeine, or alcoholic beverages at bedtime, working at night, or sleeping at irregular times.

These coping mechanisms may work in the short term to reduce the stress level. The problem then lies in the time after the stressful situation is eliminated. Those coping strategies may have now become a habit. Actions that alleviate stress before may now cause sleep problems. The cycle of repeated difficulty falling asleep creates new tension and a fear of sleeplessness can result.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the brain and interferes with sleep. Coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate, prescription and nonprescription drugs – including some OTC pain relievers – contain caffeine. Moderate daytime use of caffeine typically does not interfere with sleep at night. But heavy or regular use during the day can lead to withdrawal symptoms and sleep problems at night.

If you suffer from insomnia, try to drink fewer than two caffeinated beverages a day. Avoid caffeinated substances after lunch and see if this helps your sleeplessness.

3. Nicotine

Nicotine withdrawal can also disrupt sleep patterns. As with caffeine, nicotine is another stimulant that makes falling asleep difficult. Smokers who quit can expect to fall asleep faster and wake up fewer times throughout the night.

4. Alcohol

One of the effects of alcohol is a slowing of brain activity. It seems reasonable then that when taken at bedtime, alcohol would help one sleep. True, alcohol may help induce sleep – at first. But it also disrupts sleep later in the night.

You body metabolizes the sugars in alcohol as quickly as it can. If you have a “nightcap” before bed, your body is performing this function as you are trying to sleep. Working in this manner may lead to awakenings during the night. Alcohol is also known to induce nightmares and early morning headaches. For more sound sleep, avoid alcoholic beverages within four to six hours of bedtime.

5. Meals

Metabolizing a large meal before bed can lead to difficulty sleeping. Foods that irritate the stomach also can make sleep fitful.

A light snack at bedtime, however, can promote sleep. Milk and other dairy products consumed with carbohydrates like crackers, are especially good as bedtime snacks.

 

Good, restful sleep is one of the best things you can do during the flu season. The above suggestions should help you fall and stay asleep. If these tips don’t do the trick, consider scheduling a sleep study today. Sleep problems can lead to a number of health issues and should not be taken lightly.

Wishing you sweet dreams.

 

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