One component of health that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves?

Sleep.

Sleep is the best way to maintain a healthy immune system and can have a significant influence on your physical, emotional, intellectual, and social well-being.  At minimum, 7-8 hours of sleep per night is ideal to support the body and mind.

Wake up feeling rested with these tips:

  • 15 minutes before bedtime, disconnect from technology and limit bright lights that can stimulate your brain and keep you awake: turn down the lights, close the blinds, and turn off computer screens, tvs, and phones.
  • Avoid heavy meals two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid ingesting/smoking cannabis 4 to 6 hours prior to bedtime (interferes with sleep cycle).
  • Avoid alcohol consumption 3 or more hours prior to bedtime (interferes with sleep cycle).
  • Limit caffeine use later in the day (needs will vary from person to person).  If you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, consider limiting caffeine use to earlier in the day.
  • Don’t have time for a nap but are feeling tired during the day?  Make your environment brighter, take off your sunglasses, open the blinds, go for a walk outside, or grab a healthy snack to provide much needed fuel for your body and mind.
  •  If you have to make up for missed sleep by napping, nap in the early afternoon and for no more than 90 minutes to prevent difficulty falling asleep at night.
  • Having a hard time falling asleep? Try a non-stimulating activity, keep lights low, and stay away from phones, tvs & computers. Try reading a book instead, deep breathing (apps and videos can be found online), journaling or stretching.

Crafting the Right Sleep Environment

Bed: Limit bed use to sleep and intimacy if possible.  Do not do anything stimulating in bed as a way to fall asleep. For example, avoid checking emails, social media, and texting.

Light: Eliminate as much light from your room as possible.  Close blinds, lower lights, and avoid using technology.

Temperature: Keep your room cooled to 65-70 degrees. While sleeping, our body cools and sends heat to our extremities. If you can’t control the thermostat, experiment with lighter sheets, pajamas, or a portable fan.

Noise/Environment: Eliminate stimulating noise if possible.  For some, leaving a fan on or downloading a white noise app to your phone can help create an ideal sleep environment.

Sleep Routine

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day when possible, including weekends. A regular routine is good!
  • Prepare for sleep. Do the things that will help you get to sleep in a time frame that works for you.
  • Engage in relaxation exercises. Try relaxation techniques including deep breathing exercises, gentle yoga, meditation, journaling, or listening to soothing music.

Check out more FREE virtual wellness and prevention classes, clinics, and tools hosted by the University Health Center at BeWellUGA at Home, brought to you by the UHC Health Promotion Department.

Written by: Molly Dunn, Prevention Educator & Peer Mentor Coordinator, and Liana Natochy, Alcohol and Other Drugs Education Coordinator, The Fontaine Center / UHC Health Promotion