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Got Stress?                                  Try More Rest (Part 2)

Illustration: Person sleeping with an eye mask, speech bubbles showing time decreasing, suggesting a nap or tracking sleep duration.

By Dawn Kulesa

Now that you have a few more ideas on how to decrease your stress, it’s key to ensure you get a good night’s sleep to help your body truly rest and decompress. Getting enough rest is very important to your well-being. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), good sleep can protect your mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety. Poor sleep can increase the risk for health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes to name a few. Lack of quality sleep can also worsen memory, increase falls or accidents, create negative feelings and put stress on relationships according to the NIH.


Sleep is a complex process. As you age, how your body sleeps does change. The National Institute on Aging notes that the amount of time sleeping decreases as a person ages, and it may be shorter and lighter than in younger adults. The following are healthy sleep habits to improve the quality of your sleep recommended by the NIH. Create a calm environment for sleeping and practice better sleep habits to improve your sleep. Get regular exercise to help ensure a good night’s sleep. However, try not to exercise within three hours of your bedtime. If you are concerned about safety when it’s dark, keep a phone on your nightstand with emergency numbers listed. Have an easy-to-reach lamp by your bed if you need to make a call in the night. It is also a good idea to have a nightlight in the hallway by your bedroom if you need to get up during the night. Ensure that you do not have throw rugs or cords in the path from your bedroom to the hallway, and bedroom to bathroom. They could be hazards for slipping or falling at night. Your bedroom should be the one room where you create a calm environment, free of junk or items associated with work stress or stress triggers in your life. 


If you have to work in your bedroom, divide your bed from your work area with a screen so you are not facing any stressful reminders from your bed when you go to sleep. Find ways to relax before bedtime each night. Create a calming routine before you sleep such as listening to peaceful music or reading an inspiring book. Try to follow a regular schedule going to sleep at the same time each day and getting up at the same time, even on weekends or when traveling. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature for sleeping: not too cold or hot.


Remove some of the culprits that may be stealing sleep like taking a nap in the late afternoon or early evening.

Napping can have a negative impact on trying to go to sleep at your routine time. Also, having caffeine such as coffee, tea, or chocolate, late in the afternoon, can disrupt your sleep schedule as caffeine can keep you awake at night. Try to avoid eating large meals within two to three hours of your bedtime, and minimize drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, before you go to sleep.


In our 24/7 instant electronic access to information, using a cell phone, computer or tablet in the bedroom can be disruptive to sleep. Watching television in the bedroom right before sleep can also interrupt your sleep routine.


If you feel tired all the time, and feel unable to do your usual activities for more than two to three weeks, consult your doctor who can assess if you have a medical condition impacting your sleep and treat you to improve your sleep if you have a sleep disorder.


Wishing you restful sleep and sweet dreams!


(Dawn Kulesa is a Master of Social Work and board member of The Cambria Community Healthcare District)