Getting A Good Night’s Sleep is Vital To Your Student’s Physical and Mental Health
Sleep Hygiene is an often-misunderstood term. It’s not about bedtime rituals such as showers or brushing teeth, but about making sure that restful sleep is attained. For some, sleep is a stressful subject and insomnia is an issue. But some who believe they are sleeping well may show symptoms of being sleep deprived.
Sky Ridge Medical Center presented to a packed audience of DCSD parents and staff about the importance of Sleep Hygiene. Attendees left with information to help their families increase their overall health, attention and productivity.
“I highly recommend that every parent attend the Sleep Hygiene seminar,” said a parent of DCSD students. “Our culture continues to move faster and we are heavily involved in electronics that can distract us from healthy sleep habits. There are so many negative effects that poor sleep hygiene can have on a person and I learned how to help myself and my children achieve a healthier lifestyle."
While some people may perceive a goal of good rest as unattainable in this era of constant activity, it is vital to good health. According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition. Some of the health conditions associated with sleep deprivation include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Mental impairment
- Fetal and childhood growth retardation
The greatest barrier to excellent, healthy rest is electronic devices – cell phones, laptops, television. How many people make it a nightly ritual to relax in bed and allow television to lull them into sleep? Television is a very engaging medium and therefore requires the attention of our senses, whether we are actively watching or not. As a result, TV will either keep people up longer, or can interfere with the quality of sleep if left on.
Of course, the other most used device is the smart phone. Usually next to our bed charging, receiving texts or emails and engaging us to catch up on our day on social media, smart phones are constant beacons of activity. But that blue screen is horrific for our sleep and our mental health.
The body maintains a 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of the brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's called the “circadian rhythm,” also known as the sleep/wake cycle.
The blue screen, even if used for a moment to receive a text or check and email interrupts the circadian rhythm. Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, which allows the brain to align the circadian rhythm to the external day-night cycle. This signaling of light and dark enables one to be alert in the morning and fall asleep at the appropriate time at night based on melatonin production. Small electronic devices emit enough light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness at night, which over time permanently alters the circadian rhythm and leads to chronic sleep deprivation as melatonin production is decreased.
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders mean that your body is producing melatonin and other sleep hormones at the wrong time of day, so when you need to sleep, you don’t have enough melatonin in your system. Simply adding melatonin doesn’t fix the sleep problem and can contribute to depressive mood disorders. The most effective treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders is light therapy, because bright light is the signaler the body clock uses to reset itself each day.
To ensure the best sleep, some of these ideas may help the body regulate its rhythm:
- Shut off and remove all electronics an hour before lights out
- Use comfortable bedding
- A cool bedroom is often the most conducive to sleeping
- Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible
- Reserve the bed for sleep only
- Practice relaxation techniques before bed
- Establish a pre-sleep ritual
The next class offered through Parent University and Sky Ridge Medical Center is Managing Sports Injuries and Preventing Concussion on Wednesday, October 11 at 6pm. Snacks and refreshments are provided and the workshop is free. Sign up here.