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Are You Running Up a Sleep Debt?

By Sandy Schroeder

The question of sleep is a serious one for many of us. Night after night when you lose sleep, your body chalks that up to your health and wellness account, creating a sleep debt that needs to be repaid.

Harvard Health says if sleep were a credit card company, many of us would be in deep trouble. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, but more than 60 percent of women fall short of that target every night. Over time those losses can impact much of what we do.

  • We may fall behind in daily tasks
  • Struggle to stay awake at work
  • Rely on caffeine to get through the day
  • Collapse on the weekends
  • Gain weight and exercise less

How to Turn Things Around

Turning the sleep situation around may require a visit to the doctor to see if there are any health conditions that are triggering loss of sleep. At the same time you can take some steps at home and work to improve sleep.

Make your bedroom a haven - Eliminate extras such as exercise equipment, crafts or computers. Add plants and an air filter to freshen the air and screen out noise.

Eliminate electronics - If you are tied to your phone, check your messages before bedtime and again in the morning. Leave the TV, laptops, and other electronic gadgets outside to eliminate blue light that will keep you awake. At the same time add light-blocking drapes.

Set your body clock - Start going to bed every night at the same time, including weekends. Gradually you will find a rhythm that works to help you drop off every night.

Cut out caffeine after lunch - Caffeine can stay in the system for up to 12 hours. Phase out coffee, soda, teas and energy drinks early in the afternoon.

Reduce stimulants - Avoid alcohol and smoking at least two hours before bedtime, and skip the exciting shows.

Soothe the mind - Work on solving job, family, or financial issues that may keep you up at night.

Develop a ritual - Use a warm bath or soft music to relax. Yoga poses that encourage sleep or an easy stretching routine may help too.

Do a bed check - Make sure your mattress and pillows are supportive and comfortable. Older lumpy mattresses can lead to back pain and create restless sleep. Pillows need to be soft enough to let your head sink into them so your head, neck, and body are all level.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Spring, Tex.

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