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6 Surprising Things You Need To Know About Sleep

July 10, 2017
It’s Monday morning and you’re already feeling exhausted, but it’s only the beginning of the week. It’s hard to know if your drowsiness is due to a long weekend, a bad night’s sleep or the typical Monday morning blues.

By now you’ve likely heard a lot about how much sleep you need—typically 7 to 8 hours for adults. It's not just the quantity, the quality of your sleep matters, too. 

So what exactly is a good night’s rest? What impacts how well you sleep? And how does a lack of sleep affect your body and mind? Here are answers to some of the most common sleep related questions:

1.    What is considered solid shuteye? Well...

It takes you no more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.

You don’t wake up more than once in a night.

If you do wake up, it takes you no more than 20 minutes to fall back asleep.

When you are in bed, you spend more than 85% of your time sleeping.

2.    Does what you eat impact how well you sleep? Yes.

Eating too much saturated fat and too little fiber can affect how well you sleep.

Consuming too much sugar can make it more likely that you'll wake up in the middle of the night.

Avoiding food and drinks that are spicy, greasy, sugary or alcoholic can reduce your risk of sleep-interrupting heartburn.

Getting more B vitamin-rich foods, such as dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish, can regulate melatonin and help stabilize your sleep.

3.    Could allergies be keeping you up at night? Potentially.

Allergies can trigger headaches, sniffles and general discomfort preventing you from getting a restful night’s sleep. Keep these tips in mind:

If you're allergic to pets, bathe them weekly and keep them out of the bedroom. 

Use dust mite covers on your mattress and pillows, and wash sheets regularly in hot water. Opt for blankets made of synthetic materials, not wool.

Limit mold by keeping windows open in the bathroom. Fix leaks and clean up water promptly. If you do have a moldy area, hire a professional to clean it.

Skip candles, scented laundry detergent, air fresheners and other heavy fragrances in your bedroom.

Clean furnace, air conditioner and vacuum filters regularly.

   4.  What should you do to fall back asleep? Try this.

Remember, quality over quantity. So the next time a child, a strange noise or insomnia wakes you up at night, get back to sound snoozing with these tips:

Practice progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing exercises.

Watching the clock, may worsen anxiety, so don't do it. Turn it away from you and close your eyes.

Calm your mind by thinking about the good things that happened to you that day. 

If you still can't sleep after 20 minutes, go to another room and do something relaxing. Skip the TV and phone. Try listening to music or reading a book, and remember to keep lighting dim.

5.    Does how you wake up matter? You can make it more fun.

The right alarm clock can make the difference. When choosing one, keep these thoughts in mind:

Think functional, not looks. Make sure the buttons are easy to find when you're groggy first thing in the morning.

Skip those that emit bright blue light that can interfere with sleep. Opt for one that uses softer amber, orange or red to help you sleep more soundly.

Avoid harsh alarm tones. Choose one that eases you into the day with a sound that you enjoy, whether that's the news, your favorite music or nature sounds. Consider one that gradually increases the volume to gently rouse you.

Look for fun features that make sure you won't oversleep: a light that turns on slowly at the time you should wake or a vibration setting to help wake you.

6.    Does a lack of sleep really affect your entire body? Absolutely.

While it may be tough to get everything checked off of your daily to-do list, you shouldn’t compromise on sleep. Giving up sleep to get more done may do more harm than good. A lack of sleep can impact you from head to toe, causing everything from:

Reduced cognitive function, making it more difficult to remember, focus, learn new things, solve problems and make decisions.

Increased stress reaction.

Irritability and moodiness.

Reduced reaction time, affecting school or work performance and raising your risk of a car accident.

Increased risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Increased susceptibility to illness.

Wondering how you can sleep better?

Sleeping well in today’s demanding, fast-paced society can be a challenge to say the least. However, for your overall health and wellbeing, it’s well worth the effort. If you’re struggling to sleep soundly, Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care is prepared to help. With an experienced team of providers, the latest in care options and a wide range of resources, you will receive customized care for all of your sleep related needs. 

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