Healthy Habits Key to Good Night’s Sleep

Primary Care Physicians Share Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene

DAYTON, Ohio (March 5, 2012) – Sleep deprivation and other chronic sleep disorders disrupt millions and is a major health concern in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep problem. Premier HealthNet physicians are reminding individuals that getting a good night’s sleep can be as simple as practicing healthy sleep habits.

Sleep hygiene is the act of controlling behavioral and environmental factors which may affect sleep before going to bed. Good sleep hygiene begins with getting an adequate amount of sleep. While the necessary amount of sleep varies based on age and other health and lifestyle factors, the National Institutes of Health recommend seven to eight hours of sleep per night for the average adult.

“A lot of studies lately show getting too little or too much sleep can really affect a person’s health,” said Dr. Nicholas Davis of Centerville Family Medicine. “Too little or too much sleep can not only result in daytime sleepiness or sluggishness, but we’ve also seen an association with health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality.”

In addition to getting enough sleep, there are a number of other steps individuals can take to ensure good sleep hygiene. Dr. Davis recommends that individuals avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Eating large meals or spicy foods right before bed can also cause sleep disruptions. While exercise can promote good sleep, it should be done earlier in the day rather than one or two hours before bed. Cutting back on daytime napping and avoiding emotionally upsetting situations before bed are also components of good sleep hygiene. Additionally, if there are problems with sleeping or daytime tiredness avoid alcohol. Alcohol promotes a less restorative sleep, so individuals may feel less rested or more tired. Finally, it’s important to make sleep a priority and make sure it’s part of a daily schedule.

“It’s important that individuals establish a sleep schedule and get into a routine—just like most parents would agree their children feel better if they follow a bedtime routine, the same goes for adults,” said Dr. Davis.  “I recommend individuals establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a bath, reading a book or doing yoga to help calm down and prepare for sleep.”

While good sleep hygiene is an important step toward improving the quality of sleep and overall health in individuals, it may not completely prevent the development of a sleep problem, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. A few common symptoms of sleep problems include inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, daytime tiredness and snoring.

“If an individual practices good sleep hygiene but still experiences symptoms of a sleep disorder, there could be an underlying problem that requires medical attention,” said Dr. Davis. “I recommend patients keep a sleep journal to record sleep and wake times and bedtime habits—this can be a helpful resource for your primary care physician during an appointment to address sleep problems.”

Primary care physicians are the first stop for diagnosing and treating sleep problems and disorders. Physicians can advise patients on healthy habits or prescribe medication to address sleep problems. Sometimes, however, additional observation and expertise is required, so a patient might be referred to a sleep specialist. Miami Valley Hospital’s Sleep Center is one place in Southwest Ohio where referred patients can go for sleep disorder testing and treatment. Visit Miami Valley Hospital’s website,, for more information about the Sleep Center and the services it provides. To find a primary care physician in your area, visit

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