Adrian Pristas, M.D.
Corporate Medical Sleep Director
Hackensack Meridian Health
When your daily routine involves waking up early, putting in a full day at work, running errands, cooking dinner and tucking everyone in to sleep before finally hitting the pillow yourself, feeling fatigued seems unavoidable.
While a busy schedule may be a given, being exhausted shouldn’t be. You’ve probably heard the analogy about how you have to take care of yourself first before you can most effectively take care of anyone else. But how can you do that when you have so much going on? One word: sleep.
GETTING THOSE QUALITY Z’S
“Not getting consistent or enough sleep can affect your daytime functioning, including your ability to deal with unexpected, changing situations and distractions,” says Adrian Pristas, M.D., Corporate Medical Sleep Director, Hackensack Meridian Health. “It also impacts your capacity to evaluate risks. You want all of that in tip-top working order, which means you need restful sleep. These four small tips can have a big impact on making that happen.”
■ Keep your room like a cave. You want it to be quiet, dark and cool — somewhere between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for most people. Stay away from alarm clocks that give off a sleep-disrupting light.
■ Develop a sleep routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends. That can be difficult, but it will help keep your internal body clock on schedule.
■ Set a sleep mood. Having a bedtime ritual can signal your brain and body that it’s time to unwind. Maybe it’s drinking a cup of herbal tea, practicing a breathing exercise or putting a hot water bottle at your feet, which dilates your blood vessels and pushes your body toward an optimal temperature.
■ Limit caffeine consumption. Caffeine even six hours before bedtime was found to significantly hurt sleep in a recent study. Similarly, alcohol is a stimulant; it’s recommended that women have no more than one drink a day, and not too late in the evening.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEING A LITTLE TIRED?
About a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep (at least seven hours per night), and the number has only been growing over the past 20 years. There’s no doubt that pressure to be a do-it-all mom exists, but make sure doing it all involves getting your 40 winks. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk for:
■ Cardiovascular disease
■ Some cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer
■ Car accidents
■ Work-related injuries
Dr. Pristas advises, “If you’re struggling with sleep, see your doctor, who might refer you to a sleep specialist. Everyone deserves a night of sweet dreams.”
Did You Know?
About one-third of the population has trouble sleeping. To find a location where you can seek treatment from our board-certified sleep medicine physicians, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/Sleep.