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Are Your Bad Habits Ruining Your Sleep?

Poor Sleep Habits

Feelings of insomnia at bedtime? 
Frequent 3:00 AM wake-up? 
Consistent drowsiness during the daytime?

You are not alone in the struggle for getting good sleep. 50-70 million US adults are suffering from sleep disorders, according to the American Sleep Association.

“Sleep disorders are numerous and common, with more than 1 in 3 Americans suffering from some form of sleep associated disorders. Moreover, these disorders can result in debilitating physical and psychological consequences.” – Dr. Samer El Zarif, Board-certified Sleep Medicine

The good news is that very often taking steps, like educating yourself and small adjustments to your daily routine, can really make a difference in your sleep, mental and physical health.

Why is Sleep So Important?

A good night’s sleep affects more than our mental well-being. Consistent bad sleep patterns, such as being a “short sleeper” (less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period), may be causing serious long-term effects to your brain, heart, weight, life length, and immune system.

According to the CDC, Adults who were “short sleepers” were more likely to report being:

  • Obese
  • Physically inactive
  • Current smokers

In comparison to people who got enough sleep (7 or more hours per 24-hour period), “short sleepers” are also more likely to report 10 chronic health conditions, including:

Specific sleep needs will vary from person to person, but generally, most adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally; while children and teenagers need more sleep, up to 10-13 hours depending on their age range.

Tips To Help You Sleep Better

What you eat, drink, the medicines you take, your daily schedule and how you spend your evenings all have an impact on your ability to fall asleep as well as the quality of sleep you get once you’ve finally dozed off.

If you have difficulty sleeping and want to improve your sleep, making a change to your behaviors during the day and before bedtime can make a huge impact in helping you catch some needed Zzz‘s.

Dr. El Zarif recommends the following tips:

In the morning and during the daytime:

  • Wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends.
  • Avoid naps during the day.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and food in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly but not within 4 hours of bedtime.

Before getting into bed:

  • Establish a regular routine for bedtime.
  • Create a positive sleep environment, with avoidance of electronics and light, and noise in the bedroom.
  • Jot down a to-do list for the next day and put it aside. You will feel more organized and can avoid racing thoughts that may disrupt sleep
  • Relax before getting into bed.
  • Take a hot shower then get into a cool bed
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine for at least a few hours before bedtime.
  • Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy

While in bed:

  • Turn your clock around (or cover it) and use your alarm if needed. If you can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes (based on your internal sense of time), get out of bed and do something relaxing or boring (reading, listening to music, etc). Return to bed only when sleepy.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.

Talk to your doctor if your sleep problem persists. If you don’t have a physician, call 845-333-7575 to make an appointment with Dr. El Zarif of Catskill Regional Medical Group.

About Dr. Samer El Zarif

Dr. El Zarif is a physician with Catskill Regional Medical Group’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep MedicineDr. El Zarif is a physician with Catskill Regional Medical Group’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. Dr. El Zarif holds Board certifications in internal, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. During his training, he treated both adults and pediatric patients with complex sleep related medical disorders. His special interest is in the post-operative complications of sleep apnea, and he went on to present the results of his research orally at the SLEEP 2015 annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

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All content presented are provided for informational and educational purposes only, and are not intended to approximate or replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read within the website content. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.


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