6 easy steps to get a better night sleep

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If you’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep lately, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a third of U.S. adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep1, which for adults between the ages of 18 and 60 is seven or more hours per night. Fortunately – March is sleep awareness month during which health professionals encourage people to learn about the health benefits of sleep and commit to adopting better sleep practices.

Dr. Jennifer Swenson, Medical Director with OptumCare Utah joined Good Things Utah to share tips on how to get good night’s sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep recommended depends on your age group. It is recommended that adults, between 18 and 60 years, get seven or more hours per night, with an hour or two extra for those older than 65. In addition to how much sleep you get, the type of sleep (i.e. good or bad) is also important to your health. According to the CDC, some signs of poor sleep can include not feeling rested after the recommended amount of sleep, waking up during the night or experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders including snoring or gasping for air.

Getting enough sleep is something that people need for good health. The presence of sleep disorders can have negative effects on a person’s overall health and wellbeing.

There are a few major sleep-disorders that can affect a person’s sleep and sometimes overall health. Making sure that you see a doctor if you are experiencing any of these disorder symptoms and receiving a proper diagnosis can help you get proper treatment.

  • Insomnia: This refers to an inability to initiate or maintain sleep. Typically, insomnia symptoms will manifest as excessive daytime sleepiness and impact the individual’s ability to function properly the next day. Sometimes people will experience early morning awakening in which they wake up hours earlier than anticipated and are not able to get back to sleep.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): This sleep disorder refers to an uncomfortable sensation in a person’s upper leg that can feel like a “creeping” or cause aches and pains throughout the leg. The sensation can make it hard to initiate sleep as it is often relieved by moving the leg via kicking or walking.
  • Narcolepsy: This condition is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and muscle weakness that can occur in sometimes unusual circumstances, such as during walking or physical activity. In narcolepsy, muscle weakness is typically brought on by surprise or other strong emotions. Narcolepsy is also sometimes referred to as someone having “sleep attacks.”
  • Sleep Apnea: Although there are other symptoms, snoring at night can be a key sign of sleep apnea. Individuals who deal with sleep apnea will often have episodes or experiences where they are gasping for air or make snorting noises while they sleep. During this time their sleep is momentarily interrupted and as a result, they may feel as if they are not well-rested the next day or experience daytime sleepiness. There are many causes of sleep apnea, and general treatment is recommended based on underlying issues. For example, if a person is suffering from congestive heart failure (CHF), treating this condition may improve sleep apnea symptoms. Sleep apnea is very serious as it may obstruct airflow through nasal passages.

Not getting enough sleep or regularly getting poor sleep can sometimes lead to the development of chronic diseases that have had an increasingly common role in premature illness or death. There are a variety of conditions that can occur as a result of insufficient sleep. Some of the most common being obesity, depression, and cardiovascular disease. What can you do if you’re having trouble sleeping? Here are six steps to getting better sleep:

  • Move your body during the day
  • Sleep in a cool, dark and comfortable bedroom
  • Avoid screens in your bedroom
  • Make going to bed a ritual
  • Avoid food and drink before bedtime
  • Practice meditative breathing

If you have questions call 1-866-637-5268 or visit OptumCare Utah for more information.

This story contains sponsored content.

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