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Published on May 12, 2015

Good night’s sleep important for your health


    Lack of sleep can leave us cranky and inefficient at work, but did you know it can lead to serious medical problems including stroke and heart attack? If it is hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep, you may have a sleep disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. People who wake up tired or feel very sleepy during the day may also have an issue.

    Aynsley Anderson, RN, Community Education Coordinator


    Sleep seminar

    The free senior seminar Sleep Issues presentation begins at 6 p.m. May 19 in the LMH Auditorium. At 5 p.m. seniors are invited to enjoy a healthy three-course meal before the seminar. The cost is $5.50 and advance reservations for the supper are required 24 hours in advance by calling LMH Connect Care at 749-5800.

    More online

    For additional sleep information, visit the National Sleep Foundation online at sleepfoundation.org or visit www.sleepfoundation.org/quiz/sleep-iq-quiz to test your sleep IQ.

    On Tuesday, May 19, Dr. Lida Osbern will discuss “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream? About Sleep Issues” at the monthly Senior Supper and Seminar presentation at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Osbern is co-medical director of the LMH Sleep Center and Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine — Reed Medical Group.

    The four main types of sleep issues disorders are:

    • Insomnia, which is characterized by having a hard time falling or staying asleep
    • Sleep apnea, which is characterized by breathing interruptions during sleep
    • Restless legs syndrome,which is a tingling or prickly sensation in the legs
    • Narcolepsy, which is referred to as daytime "sleep attacks"

    You should talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble sleeping or are experiencing any of the sleep issues outlined above. Regular sleep habits are important for everyone, and it is good to review these, especially when you are having trouble sleeping.

    The National Sleep Foundation suggests using the following sleep practices on a consistent basis:

    • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends.
    • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety.
    • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can't fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
    • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
    • Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool — between 60 and 67 degrees — and free from any light or noise that can disturb your sleep.
    • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy — about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses.
    • Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check.
    • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and heavy meals in the evening. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry.
    • If you can't sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment.

    If you try these healthy sleep suggestions and are having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider or call the sleep specialists at LMH Sleep Center at 505-3789.

    Aynsley Anderson, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at aynsley.anderson@lmh.org.

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