5 Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep

Nearly half of Hawaii residents don’t get the recommended seven or more hours of sleep per night. Dr. Shanon Makekau from the Kaiser Permanente Hawaii Sleep Lab shares her tips for a restful night.

1. Prioritize sleep

Getting enough sleep doesn’t happen on its own. Catching up on work, cleaning and family commitments often take precedence. Your first step to better sleep is to set aside time for it, just as you would make a conscious effort to exercise regularly or eat a healthy diet.

2. Prepare for success

Create your ideal sleep environment, one that is dark, quiet, cool and relaxing. Use your bedroom only for sleep and intimacy so your brain will create a natural association that the bedroom and sleep go hand in hand. If you have trouble sleeping, leave the room to relax and return only when you feel sleepy.

3. Just say “no”

While a nightcap helps some people doze off, alcohol actually makes sleep cycles more fragmented and disrupted, which leaves you feeling less refreshed in the morning. Also avoid stimulants such as caffeine and tobacco in the hours before bed, which can keep you awake and impair your ability to experience deep sleep.

4. Wind down

It’s hard to know when to unplug, especially in today’s connected world. Set a timer an hour before bedtime to step away from the screen and put down the phone. After the timer goes off, engage in stress-reducing activities only – such as yoga, meditation, journaling or listening to relaxing music – to calm your body and mind and prepare your brain for bed. By the time you actually go to bed, you’ll be that much closer to a peaceful slumber.

5. Focus on quantity and quality

Adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night regularly to feel rested throughout the day. As important as it is to log those hours, sleep quality is just as important. Sleep should be continuous and uninterrupted, allowing you to experience rapid eye movement, or REM, and nonrapid eye movement, or NREM, sleep states and feel the full restorative benefits of a good night’s rest.

Shanon Makekau, M.D., is a pulmonologist and medical director of the Kaiser Permanente Hawaii Sleep Lab.

Categories: 5 Steps, Lifestyle