ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s something everyone seems to want more of—sleep. Getting quality Zs plays a vital role in your physical and mental health. However, getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep is a struggle for many American adults.
Sleep deficiency is a common public health problem in the U.S., impacting nearly a third of the country. Lack of sleep is connected to countless chronic health issues like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression, to name a few.
News10’s Stephanie Rivas spoke with internal medicine specialist Dr. Arielle Levitan to find out some solutions. Levitan said quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sleep; keeping your body clock on track throughout the week is your first line of defense.
“There’s always that tendency to want to sleep in on the weekend, make up for sleep deprivation during the week, but is actually better for you is to be consistent,” Dr. Levitan, Vous Vitamin Founder, said. “That means consistent bedtimes and, more importantly, consistent wake-up times to stay consistent.”
Dr. Levitan said this could be especially difficult for shift workers, but making some changes while you’re awake can help counter the battle of getting enough quantity and quality shut-eye. According to Johns Hopkins University, exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
A steady vitamin regimen can also help as deficiencies are linked to sleeping disorders. Dr. Levitan is one of the co-founders of the brand Vous Vitamins; the company offers personalized all-natural supplements that cater to specific health needs.
Dr. Levitan added that although a glass of wine will help you pass out quicker with its sedative qualities, alcohol is linked to poor sleep quality and can impact how long you can stay asleep. As for that cup of coffee, it’s best to stay away from caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.
Technology is another concern, as blue light can signal your brain to stay awake and disrupt your circadian rhythm—an internal 24-hour cycle that regulates your sleep cycle. Harvard University suggested staying away from screens two to three hours before lying down. Because this isn’t possible for many, you can wear blue-light-blocking glasses a few hours before you try to fall asleep.
“You can get certain glasses, such as amber glasses, which are easily ordered online or cheap at your local pharmacy,” Dr. Levitan said. “And you can wear those, and they help prevent those blue rays from getting to your brain and telling you to stay awake.”
Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or insomnia, impact around 70 million people in the U.S. Therefore, if you’re doing everything right and still having difficulty sleeping or never feeling rested, Dr. Levitan, suggested speaking to a physician about possible testing.