A Healthy Prescription for Sleep from Your Doctor
Getting a good night’s sleep might just save your life. We’ve long known that being well rested helps us get through our busy days, but now doctors are beginning to prescribe sleep as a treatment for everything from common diseases to chronic disorders and mental health. Research showing the importance of sleep for physical and mental health is growing, and according to a recent article in Time Magazine, experts are increasingly saying that getting enough sleep is just as important as diet and exercise for a healthy and long life. So a healthy prescription for sleep isn’t such a bad idea.
Good Sleep At Night Keeps the Doctor Away
Not getting enough sleep has been linked to everything from obesity and diabetes to ADHD to depression and more. And while roughly 70% of doctors acknowledge that insufficient sleep is a serious health problem, right now only about 43% advise their patients on the potential health benefits of getting more sleep.
Physicians are increasingly encouraged by sleep experts to discuss, and in some cases prescribe a better sleep routine. In some cases, a recommended dose of sleep is even helping some patients fight cancer.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about your sleep habits, just as you would discuss diet and exercise. According to a recent Gallup survey, 40% of Americans are getting less than the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. In some serious cases of sleep loss or disruption, a physician might recommend visiting a sleep therapist. But in many cases there a number of straightforward lifestyle changes that we can all take to reap the benefits of a healthy night’s sleep.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule; go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink; avoid caffeine later in the day, and recognize that alcohol and heavy meals before bed can disrupt sleep.
- Create a bedtime routine; signal to your body that it’s time to wind down by taking a warm bath or shower, read a book, or listen to soothing music, and avoid TV and electronics.
- Get comfortable; create a room that’s cool, dark and quiet, and make sure you choose a comfortable mattress, pillows and bedding.