Ways to improve sleep habits

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 73 percent of high school students do not get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.

“I probably get like 5 hours of sleep a night or less” sophomore Morgan Betts said.

Betts, as well as many other students at FHS, expressed how little sleep they get each night. She says there have been numerous nights that she has not slept at all and had suffered through the day without sleep.

“There are times where I just lay there and end up going on my phone just to pass the time.” Betts said.

Without the recommended hours of sleep, there could be many effects including memory issues, weight gain, weakened immune system, and many others. However, there are ways to help improve sleep habits and reduce having these effects.

Avoiding Caffeine
“… drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping” nutrition and health expert, Rudy Mawer said.

Mawer speaks of a study that shows how caffeine can have effects up to 6 hours after consumption. One big effect is the worsening of sleep and overall sleep quality.

“Just a single 30-minute exercise session can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep, and help you sleep longer overall” psychologist Danielle Pacheco said.

By exercising throughout the day, it can increase the chances of actually being tired when they are ready to sleep. Pacheco recommends to slow down the amount of exercise a few hours before bedtime. Exercising too close to bedtime can increase heart rate and make it harder to fall asleep.

Only use your bed for sleep
“The bed needs to be a stimulus for sleeping, not for wakefulness” professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Karen Carlson said.

Carlson says that a bed should not be sat on to simply watch TV or do work but just to sleep. When a bed is only used for sleep, your brain can be trained to know that it is time to sleep.

Sleep in a quiet and dark room
“… exposure to light blocks the production of melatonin. When this happens before bed or during sleep, it can interfere with the sleep-wake cycle” gastroenterologist John DeBanto said.

Melatonin is a hormone that is released when someone is in a dark and quiet environment and is what makes someone tired. If there is light or loud noises, it can stop melatonin from being produced and make it harder to fall asleep.

Limit electronic use
“We get the most of our exposure to blue light from the sun. Blue light stimulates parts of the brain that makes us feel alert, elevating our body temperature and heart rate” sleep physician Abhinav Singh said.

Using electronics at night can trick your mind into thinking that it is day and not allow melatonin to be produced. The necessary blue light needed comes from the day time and using electronics at night brings unnecessary blue light.