What does it take to get a good night's sleep?

What Does It Take to Get a Good Night's Sleep?
Updated: Jan. 18, 2018 at 7:29 PM CST
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(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - How many hours of sleep do you get a night and how restful is the sleep you're getting?

Physician and Director of the Sleep Lab with St. Bernards Clopton Clinic, Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, said there are a number of factors which can have an effect on whether or not you get a good night's sleep.

For instance, blue light.

"I wouldn't say blue light is necessarily a bad thing for sleep," Dr. Cohen said. "But it can affect your sleep. Specifically, it will affect your circadian rhythm. Which is like your body's rhythm which it uses to time things day and night. For instance, most people go to sleep. That's a rhythm. Blue light can affect that rhythm. It can either push it to a later time at night or you can use it to push it to an earlier time at night. It just depends on when you're exposed to the blue light."

Dr. Cohen said the biggest factor when dealing with night lights is actually where they're placed in a child's room.

"If your eyes are closed, it probably doesn't matter," Dr. Cohen said. "The baby would have to be looking at the light and then it depends on the intensity of the light. If the light is across the room, it probably doesn't matter. There's not enough power reaching the infant to affect their sleep schedule. But, on the other hand, in my personal situation, I probably wouldn't put a blue light right next to my child's crib that he could stare at because that absolutely could affect his sleep patterns."

Dr. Cohen said he wouldn't recommend a television set as a sleep aid.

"I'm a big fan of not having a television in the bedroom," Dr. Cohen said. "That comes from my sleep background. Just from general sleep hygiene, something as distracting and attention-getting as a television shouldn't be where you're trying to sleep. That being said, a lot of people seem to go to sleep with the tv on. So, more power to them."

Dr. Cohen said the main factor in getting a good night's sleep is establishing a routine.

"There are some real simple measures that we call sleep hygiene," Dr. Cohen said. "It has to do with having a night time routine. Maybe you drink a glass of warm milk before you go to bed. Maybe you take a shower. Just something that kind of gives your routine the clue that you're about to go to sleep. You don't want to have stimulating things in your bedroom. Such as a television. You sure don't want to get in bed and do other things for a long time. Such as eating or reading or doing homework. Because all those things make you an association with the bed that's not sleeping. So, the best habit would be to have a night time routine that is relaxing. Go to be when you are tired and ready to go to sleep. You sure don't want to go to bed and lie there a long time or you're going to get used to that. And that's not a good thing. You wouldn't want to exercise real hard within a couple of hours of going to bed."

Dr. Cohen said not getting enough sleep is a real issue due to how busy people are.

"People are typically sleep deprived," Dr. Cohen said. "Because we cram so much into our lives. We have so many things to distract us. So, there are some norms that are well published and well known that have to do with sleep time. For instance, teenagers which seem to be the worst group about behaviorally messing up their sleep, a typical teenager probably should be getting somewhere between eight and nine hours of sleep at night. And how many teenagers do you know get that much sleep at night? Not many. But at that age group that's well published and a real hard recommendation to get that much sleep. To invest in doing things like that, you'd have to figure out how to make a teenager put down their cell phone at night. Have them unwind. But let's say other investments such as starting school times a little later than the typical eight o'clock when they start around here. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that school start no earlier than 8:30 for that very reason. To give the younger people a little more time to sleep."

Dr. Cohen said one of the biggest culprits popping up that keeps people up is their devices.

"Probably the most important thing," Dr. Cohen said. "Recently coming up are our cell phones and our close proximity computer screens. The light behind those things are generally LED's. And the power spectrum from and LED is typically in the blue light range. So, you're looking at 450 to 500 nanometers for the wavelength of blue light. And that's right dead on where LED's produce their light. So, now we've got a situation where you're holding a blue light source really close to your eyes really late at night. So, that blue light exposure will typically suppress melatonin formation. . .at least melatonin release into your blood. Which delays your sleep onset. So, that's probably the biggest thing I see personally in my life and the life of teenagers who seem to be glued to their phones, unfortunately. So, they'll take their phone to bed, expose the blue light, suppress their melatonin and push their sleep time even later than it normally is."

Dr. Cohen's main advice is to put your distractions up and keep the light far away.

"LEDs are typically in the blue spectrum," Dr. Cohen said. "Blue light does affect your melatonin release and the LEDs are used to power our devices. So, your putting blue light really close. So, light intensity is proportional to the distance away from you. The power of a light source drops off dramatically as you increase the distance from you."

For more information about St. Bernards Clopton Clinic, click here.

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