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In our last post, “8 Ways Your Immune System and Health Suffer from Lack of Sleep,” we identified some of the ways sleep loss can negatively affect your health and lead to a wide variety of disorders. Sleep health and wellness is your health and wellness.

Here are 8 ways you can improve your sleep and boost your immune system:

1.  Prepare yourself for sleep with a relaxing routine, which means going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day. You build a “sleep debt” when you sleep for an inadequate amount of time. Although you may think you can sleep late on the weekends to payoff this “debt,” that is not a solid plan. Even if you no longer feel sleepy, your neurocognitive performance may still not have returned to normal.

2.  Avoid excitement before bed. To read about the benefits of certain activities before bed, read our blog post "Couples Should 'Pillow Talk' for a Healthy Relationship."

3.  Turn off the television, close the laptop, and put down your cell phone two hours before bedtime. The blue light waves from LED lights and screens during the two hours before bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep or cause you to wake up too early.

4.  Don’t overindulge in alcohol during the day and limit alcohol intake before bed. Although alcohol is a sedative, it does not lead to quality sleep. The alcohol in your system may prevent you from getting the deep, restful sleep you usually get in the first few hours of sleep. Alcohol in your system may also result in vivid dreams or nightmares, sleepwalking, and breathing problems.

5.  Don’t drink caffeinated beverages within 8 to 10 hours of bedtime. For those with a typical bedtime, that means cutting off caffeine before 2:00 in the afternoon. The primary stimulant effect of caffeine hits in the first hour; however, it takes a long time for caffeine to completely leave your system. Although everyone’s metabolism is different, it typically takes 4 to 6 hours to metabolize half of the coffee you have consumed. That means, if you drink an 8-ounce cup of coffee at 10:00 in the morning, you may still have one quarter of the caffeine in your system when you go to bed at 10:00 at night. Front-loading caffeine in the morning won’t necessarily resolve the effects of caffeine on your sleep at night since you will just be starting the day with a larger amount of caffeine to metabolize. Additionally, caffeine sensitivity can change over the years so what might not have affected someone when they are young can cause sleep problems in later years

6.  Exercise regularly. Read more about the relationship between exercise and sleep in our blog post “Athletes Need Their ZZZ’s, Too.”

7.  Maintain a cool, dark, quiet, and clean bedroom. When people refer to circadian rhythms, they are discussing the internally driven cycles of living beings across a 24-hour day. Circadian rhythms promote sleepiness and wakefulness and are affected by external cues with the cycle of the sun being the strongest cue. Light, even through closed eyelids, signals the time for awakening. Artificial light can also affect sleep. That is why we highly recommend sleep masks, particularly when you are away from home in a place where you may be unable to control the ambient light. Read more about blocking out the light in our blog post on blocking out the light with a Sleep Mask.

8.  Create a positive sleep environment with comfortable and hygienic bedding. This is where Down Etc comes in. We offer everything you need for your bed from the bottom up. The perfect feather and down pillow or down alternative pillows, 100% cotton hotel-quality sheets, and an all-season comforter will make it easy to put down your work, turn off the television, and snuggle into a great night’s sleep.

A full night’s sleep is just what the doctor ordered.

Updated Links July 29, 2022

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