Unlock the Secrets of Restful Sleep

Are you tired of tossing and turning, unable to find the rest you need? You’re not alone. Sleep is fundamental to our well-being, yet achieving restful sleep remains elusive for many. Understanding the complexities of the sleep cycle and addressing common sleep challenges are crucial steps toward reclaiming quality rest.

Understanding the Sleep Cycle

Sleep is a complex dance between our brain and body, with various stages dictating our rest and wakefulness. From the slow relaxation of non-REM sleep to the dream-filled REM stage, each phase plays a crucial role in rejuvenating our bodies. While the ideal sleep duration was once thought to be a solid eight hours, experts now recognize a range of six to eight hours for optimal health.

Normal sleep involves each sleep cycle lasting about 90 minutes, with four or five sleep cycles repeated per night. For years, the tried-and-true number of hours of sleep needed for healthy adults was considered eight hours. Sleep experts and medical professionals are now realizing there is more of a range of six to eight hours. Teens, children, and infants require the most sleep as their bodies grow and develop, with some newborns needing up to 17 hours a day. Robert Recker, MD, shares, “In my observations, senior adults may need more sleep because they suffer from the worst sleep. As you age, your brain doesn’t sleep as efficiently. Older adults also face more health difficulties that interrupt their rest.”

Common Sleep Challenges

Insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome are just a few of the sleep disorders plaguing many individuals today. Factors like pain, menopause, and chronic health conditions can further disrupt our sleep patterns, leading to long-term health consequences.

Your physical, emotional, and mental health all impact how well you sleep. Other health conditions such as pain, menopause, enlarged prostate, and respiratory ailments including asthma also affect sleep patterns. People with uncontrolled heart failure, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses also experience a lack of restful sleep.

The Toll of Sleep Deficiency

Sleep deficiency isn’t just about feeling groggy; it can have far-reaching effects on our physical and mental well-being. From mood disorders to increased risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, the repercussions of inadequate sleep are profound.

Sleep deficiency means you don’t sleep enough, you don’t sleep well, you sleep at the wrong time of day (narcolepsy) or you have a sleep disorder that causes poor-quality sleep. Reports show that about one-third of Americans are not getting sufficient sleep every day. The National Institutes of Health states, “an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic, or ongoing, sleep disorders.”

Not getting sufficient sleep is also linked to more long-lasting health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke. It is a myth that people can cope well with little sleep for great lengths of time and experience no negative effects.

Improving Your Sleep Habits

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our sleep hygiene and reclaim restful nights. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, limiting screen time before bed, and avoiding heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime are just a few strategies to promote better sleep.

Our sleep is affected because our lives are too busy and too stressful. Screen time and social media habits tend to bleed into our evenings. We cause our circadian rhythms, part of our body’s internal clock, to get off balance when we stay up late some nights and sleep in other mornings. Many people actually train themselves to be bad sleepers and oftentimes sleep can be corrected by regimenting your lifestyle.

Dr. Recker shares the following are steps to improve your sleep habits:

  • Stay with a routine for when you go to bed and wake up every day. On the weekends limit your extra sleep to only about an hour more.
  • Reserve the hour before bed for quiet. Avoid bright artificial light from TV and computer screens. Turn off the loud music and skip intense exercise late in the day.
  • Stay away from large or heavy meals within a few hours of bedtime. A light snack can be okay, but don’t load up too much.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime. Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it interferes with the architecture of your sleep overall.
  • Consider the effect nicotine and caffeine (caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate) have on your body. Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants that can impair sleep quality. Some people are not affected by caffeine later in the day, so beware of your individual response.
  • Stay physically active every day. When possible, get outside and move around during the day so your body gains the benefits of exercise.

When to Seek Help

If sleep disruptions persist, it’s essential to seek medical guidance. Our team at Think Whole Person Healthcare offers comprehensive assessments to identify the root cause of your sleep issues. Whether it’s lifestyle adjustments, behavioral health support, or medical interventions, we’re here to help you achieve restorative sleep and optimal health.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, and most cases are caused by lifestyle, particularly extra stress and anxiety in a person’s life. To help, we recommend following better sleep hygiene (see the steps above) and learning better emotional and mental health exercises to eliminate the worry and stress triggers. We also refer patients to our Behavioral Health team if certain mental health conditions are blocking nightly rest.

If we determine that you have an underlying health condition such as sleep apnea, we may refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation. But first, losing some weight often helps correct obstructive sleep apnea. Be encouraged that most sleep disorders are treatable. All of us at think want you well-rested and safely enjoying your life again. Come see us, and let’s get you catching that beauty rest and more.

Prioritize Your Health with Think

At Think Whole Person Healthcare, we’re committed to your lifelong well-being. From preventative care to specialized treatment, our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare services for you and your family. Visit our website to learn more about our services and meet our team of medical professionals.


Think Whole Person Healthcare is dedicated to keeping you healthy through preventative care and treatment for various medical conditions. From sleep issues to persistent back pain, our physicians, advanced practice providers, and specialists are committed to you and your family’s lifelong health and well-being. 

Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page. 

We help you stay healthy. Give us a call at 402.506.9000.

This article was written by thinkPress based on “Catching Restful Zzz’s” by Robert Recker, MD. Read that complete article here: https://thinkhealthcare.org/catching-restful-zzzs/

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