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7 Simple Steps to Sleep Soundly

By Sandy Schroeder

Sleep is becoming a key health focus as more people realize what sleep can do or undo. If you find yourself struggling with sleep, or coming up short every night, you may want to take some steps to sleep better.

Losing sleep can undermine your daily performance, weaken your immune system, lead to weight gain, and increase the risk of diabetes or heart disease.

Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but more than 60 percent of women fail to meet that figure. If you are one of those women who never gets enough sleep, as family and job issues stretch everything to the limit, you may want to see what you can do to lighten the load to protect your health.

Here are some tips to help from Harvard Health.

Create a sleep haven – Keep your bedroom cool, calm and quiet. Use fans or air filters to freshen the air and provide white noise. Use blackout drapes to block light. Update your mattress and pillows, and park all electronics, including TVs, phones, and laptops outside. Blue lights from electronics and replays of daytime issues are not good sleep companions.

Get outside and get moving – A dose of sunshine and fresh air coupled with a brisk walk or leisurely bike ride will go a long way to help you sleep at night. Fit exercise into morning or afternoon hours, but avoid exercising right before bedtime.

Stress less – Try a tai chi class in the park, or do a few yoga poses at bedtime to release stress. Spend some time with a hobby in the garage, chatting with a friend, or playing with your kids in the park -- whatever works to let go of tension in the day will help you rest at night.

Work on issues – Do what you can to sort out ongoing problems at work or at home. Then avoid reviewing the issues just before bedtime.

Limit caffeine – Cut off the coffee in early afternoon. Caffeine can stay in the system for 12 hours. Hold the wine and beer at dinner down. Too much alcohol disrupts sleep. Avoid a caffeine cycle that makes caffeine a must throughout the day.

Nap wisely – Limit daytime naps to 20 or 30 minutes. Any longer and they may keep you working effectively, but interfere with your rest at night.

Don’t turn sleep into a crusade – Making sleep a big issue, along with your regular work and family pressures, simply won’t help. Gradually put together a better sleep routine. If you wake up at 3 a.m., get up, read a book (not a screen) for awhile, and then go back to bed. Over time a natural sleep routine will evolve.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic  in Schaumburg, Ill.

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