Chicago Health | Homepage
A little more sleep has big rewards

A little more sleep has big rewards

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts

By Howard LeWine, M.D.

Q: My wife says I am more forgetful because I don’t get enough sleep. I sleep 6 hours a night. But I don’t feel tired during the day and I haven’t noticed any change. What do you think?

A: I won’t get in the middle of that one. But your wife’s concern about you not getting enough sleep is supported by scientific evidence.

When people don’t get enough sleep, their attention and concentration abilities decline. Their reaction time lengthens, they’re inattentive, and they don’t respond as well to environmental signals.

Going without sleep for 48 hours impairs cognitive abilities to the same degree as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1%, above the legal limit for driving in every state.

A lack of sleep can also contribute to a long list of health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and even early death.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get more sleep. You really can make up for lost sleep and restore focus and clarity. Aim for seven to eight hours a night.

Try the following strategies to get started.

Practice good sleep hygiene. Use your bed for sleep and sex only, block as much noise and light as possible, go to bed and wake at the same times each day, and get out of bed if you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes.

Supplement with naps. If you can’t set aside enough time for sleep at night and are sleepy during the daytime, napping can help. It’s best to take one short midday nap before 5 p.m. Naps late in the day can interfere with sleep later. If your problem is difficulty falling asleep at night, then daytime naps might not be a good strategy for you.

Exercise earlier, not later. Exercise stimulates the brain, so make sure you finish at least three hours before turning in.

Watch your diet. Avoid foods that promote heartburn, and don’t eat late at night. Ban caffeine-packed food and drinks at least six hours before bedtime. Avoid alcohol for at least two hours before bed. It may make you feel sleepy at first, but several hours later it acts like a stimulant. And don’t drink too much water before bedtime, to cut down on trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

(Howard LeWine, M.D., is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2016 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Excess Snacking

Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Excess Snacking

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN, LDN Tired and hungry? Your sleep debt may be contributing to

Count ingredients, not calories

Count ingredients, not calories

By Sharon Palmer, R.D.N. Shift your focus from the calories label to the ingredients label, and

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

What Doctors Know Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pneumonia puts thousands of young children

Cartilage repair, restoration becoming more common

Cartilage repair, restoration becoming more common

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I recently heard about cartilage being used in knee joints. Last summer

Discovering need to treat high blood pressure may be too late

Discovering need to treat high blood pressure may be too late

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham whatdoctorsknow.com Untreated high blood pressure, or hypertension, wreaks havoc on the

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

December 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
November 27, 2016 November 28, 2016 November 29, 2016 November 30, 2016 December 1, 2016 December 2, 2016 December 3, 2016
December 4, 2016 December 5, 2016 December 6, 2016 December 7, 2016 December 8, 2016 December 9, 2016 December 10, 2016
December 11, 2016 December 12, 2016 December 13, 2016 December 14, 2016 December 15, 2016 December 16, 2016 December 17, 2016
December 18, 2016 December 19, 2016 December 20, 2016 December 21, 2016 December 22, 2016 December 23, 2016 December 24, 2016
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives