During these “Dog Days of Summer,” many of us want nothing more than to take a long nap under a big shade tree. Unfortunately, heat and humidity make it harder to fall asleep, and stay asleep, which adds to the sleeping problems that many adults already experience.
The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but a recent survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that most employed U.S. adults only sleep for six hours a night or less!
The consequences of getting too little sleep can be serious. Sleep deprivation can cause memory problems, depression, weakening of the immune system, and an increased perception of pain. According to WebMD (www.webmd.com), if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you are sleep deprived.
As we age, we find that it becomes harder to fall asleep, and harder to sleep through the night. This is because our sleep cycle changes. Older adults spend more time in light stages of sleep, and less time in deep sleep than we did when we were younger.
If you have trouble sleeping, try the following tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
• Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule, even on the weekends
• Caffeine affects the body for 3-5 hours, so avoid caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime.
• Avoid napping for more than 20 minutes during the day
• Do not smoke, as studies show that nicotine makes it harder to sleep.
• Do not drink alcohol close to bedtime.
• Do a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, before going to bed.
• If you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes in bed, get up and do a relaxing activity until you feel tired again.
Here are a few tips to help you sleep during these “Dog Days of Summer.”
• Prevent heat buildup in your home by shutting the blinds during the day.
• Sleep with the air-conditioning or a fan on.
• Take a shower before going to bed, and leave your hair wet.
• Drink plenty of cool fluids before bed, and keep a glass of water on your bedside table.
• Wear lightweight pajamas and use lightweight sheets. If you wake up and are very sweaty, change your clothes before going back to sleep.
Take time during these lazy summer days to work on improving your sleeping patterns. This article is provided by Liberty at Home. For information call Dana O’Donnell at 215-643-6335 ext. 147.