Submitted by Ashley Simons
Edited by Marcia Bristow MS RDN CSSD CD
Sleep is often taken for granted and undervalued. While it is recommended that adults receive 7-9 hours of sleep per night, only about 48% of adults actually achieve an amount of sleep that falls within that range.1 As for the remaining adults, 26% receive an average of 6-7 hours per night and the other 20% obtain 6 hours or less.1 This is a huge problem considering that sleep deprivation can be a stepping-stone to a variety of health issues including heart disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, and obesity.1,2 Sleep hygiene refers to practices that enable people to achieve optimal sleep quality.3
Our sleep quality has diminished over time, coinciding with people working more and increased use of technology.1 Work, family, and other obligations can often take up most of our time, leaving sleep as more of a luxury rather than the necessity it is. Both the quantity and quality of sleep are important. Stress is often a contributor to poor sleep quality and can derive from a variety of circumstances, such as phone alerts in the middle of the night as well as uncompleted assignments or tasks.4 With adequate sleep we think more clearly and efficiently throughout the day. When sleep deprived, it is easier to make poor lifestyle choices, especially regarding food. A sleep-deprived brain may actually crave foods that are high-calorie and promote weight-gain.2
If you keep your brain deprived of its 7-9 hours, you could be putting yourself at risk for a variety of health complications.1,2 Some of the leading causes of death are related to heart health, which sleep directly impacts.1 People often rely on caffeine, which correlates to poor sleep.5 A study on college students demonstrated that those with poor sleep hygiene also drank caffeinated beverages regularly.5 Poor quality of sleep often leads to consumption caffeine – a cycle that can be difficult to break.5 Stimulants, like caffeine, can keep you alert day and night. Caffeine dependence and ongoing lack of sleep can be hazardous to your health.
There are several techniques to enhance sleep hygiene. Engaging in meditation practices such as abdominal breathing and guided imagery or establishing a daily exercise routine and healthy eating pattern can be useful in decreasing stress and increasing sleep quality.4 Decreasing or eliminating consumption of caffeinated beverages can substantially improve sleep quality.4,5 Sleep is essential and making time for it will help to improve your overall health.1,2
- Covassin N, Singh P. Sleep duration and cardiovascular disease risk. Sleep Medicine Clinics. 2016;11(1):81-89.
- Greer SM, Goldstein AN, Walker MP. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications. 2013;4.
- Buysse DJ. Sleep health: can we define it? Does it matter? Sleep. 2014;37(1):9-17.
- Royal K, Hunt S, Borst L, Gerard M. Sleep hygiene among veterinary medical students. J Education and Health Promotion. 2018;7(1)47.
- Lohsoonthorn V, Khidir H, Casillas G, Lertmaharit S, Tadesse MG, Pensuksan WC, Rattananupong T, Gelaye B, Williams MA. Sleep quality and sleep patters in relation to consumption of energy drinks, caffeinated beverages, and other stimulants among Thai college students. Sleep and Breathing. 2014;17(3):1017-1028.