Awaken your sleep strategy

Serendipitous sleep aids

By Leslie T. Snadowsky

We spend so much time trying to perfect our eight-hour workday. So why are we asleep at the wheel when strategically planning our eight hours a day in bed? 

“Sleep affects everything in your body,” says Dr. Frank Barbieri, DDS, MS, at 2 Sleep Well Again in Bluffton and Summerville. “There are 90 different sleep disorders listed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and people don’t realize poor sleep can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, acid reflux and a weakened immune system. If you are on the borderline of a problem and you have poor sleep, it kicks you over to the wrong side and makes that problem just grow and become worse.”

Barbieri’s Sleep Centers offer dental solutions for medically diagnosed sleep apnea, snoring and insomnia, but he says practicing successful sleep hygiene at home will give you the good night’s sleep of your dreams.

You snooze, you lose

“Sleep is a pattern,” Barbieri said. “If you can get to sleep the same time every night, that’s important. And if you wake up every day at the same time, you sleep better and have better sleep quality. If you hit the snooze button, and things like that, that’s not good.”

Here comes the sun

Light signals your body to get going, whether you switch on a bed table lamp or keep the curtains open to see natural sunlight. “Whenever you wake up, 5:30 a.m. or 8:30 a.m., get out of bed and let the light get in,” Barbieri says.

Warm glass of milk

Mom may know best when it comes to tucking you in, and Barbieri says if a warm glass of milk does the trick, stick with it, but forgo a full-fledged meal before nodding off. “If you need a little something before you go to sleep, have something very small and very light,” he says. “You should not have coffee after 3 p.m. and no alcohol within three hours of when you go to sleep.”

Relaxation mode

Don’t exercise at night because it revs up your metabolism. Instead, get in the habit of relaxing your body before bedtime, which means switching off your phone and iPad and all blue lights. “You also want to shut the TV off about a half hour before you want to go to sleep,” Barbieri said. “No reading, no TV in bed, all those things are keeping you awake.”

Clothing optional

According to the Sleep Foundation, 28 percent of the population sleeps in the buff, but wearing socks to bed may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. “I’ve had patients in both situations,” says Barbieri. “The sleep spectrum for what people have to do to get to sleep is vast.” 

Silent night

While Barbieri encourages silence for sound sleep, he doesn’t begrudge his patients some nocturnal noise. “Some people need to hear a fan,” he says. “And you can buy sound pillows that emit soothing rhythms like running water, rustling leaves and rainforests.”

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