Sleep is a crucial, yet often neglected, factor for overall health and well-being. According to a CDC study, more than a third of American adults are regularly not getting enough sleep. Many know that consistently getting a good night’s sleep can help us be more alert, concentrate on tasks, and increase our productivity, but research has also unveiled a clear connection between sleep and brain health.
In the short term, lack of adequate sleep can affect our judgment, mood, and ability to learn and retain information. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk of developing dementia later in life.
However, there is plenty we can do to improve our sleep and brain health. Let’s take a look into some simple changes you can make that may improve your sleep, increase focus and productivity, and reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Having good sleep habits, or “sleep hygiene,” to incorporate into your daily routine can help you sleep better, improve your day-to-day brain function, and reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Here are our top five tips for better sleep.
For adults aged 18-60, the CDC recommends seven or more hours of sleep per night. For adults aged 61-64, seven to nine hours are recommended, and for adults aged 65 and older, seven to eight hours are recommended.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day—yes, even during the weekend. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to go to sleep at your normal bedtime and wake up at the time you normally rise.
Lying in bed for hours on end without being able to sleep can be frustrating. If you are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do a relaxing activity, such as reading a book, listening to music, or meditating.
Long naps during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep. We all love and deserve an occasional nap, so when you do nap, try to keep it to 30 minutes or less earlier in the day. If you find yourself in an afternoon energy slump and are gravitating towards your bed, consider taking a walk outside, having a glass of ice water, or a phone call with a friend.
Regular physical activity during the day can promote restful sleep. In the past, experts have recommended not exercising at night as part of good sleep hygiene; however, newer studies suggest you can exercise in the evening so long as you avoid vigorous activity for at least one hour before bed.
When it’s time for bed, make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Exposure to light can make it more difficult to fall asleep, so be sure to close the curtains, put away your cell phone and computer, and turn off the TV. If you’re bothered by noise, consider using some earplugs. You can also turn on a fan or white noise machine if this helps you sleep.
Avoid large or heavy meals within a couple of hours of your bedtime. Be mindful of how caffeine affects you—while some can drink coffee throughout the evening, others are more strongly affected and may need to stop drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. Nicotine and alcohol can also impact your ability to fall asleep and get a restful night’s sleep. The stimulating effects of nicotine can take hours to wear off and can impact your quality of sleep. While alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt your sleep later in the night.
While making changes to improve sleep and brain health, you will likely want a way to quantitatively track and monitor your sleep patterns as well as your brain health. For tracking sleep, there are a wide variety of sleep trackers available, including those integrated into some smartwatches. At a minimum, you’ll want to look at your sleep duration as well as the time you fell asleep and the time you woke up to make sure you’re sticking to your sleep schedule. Some sleep trackers will even track the phases of your sleep cycle.
For monitoring how these changes are affecting your brain function and brain health, consider using a digital brain health assessment tool.
At Altoida, we are dedicated to providing a reliable, accessible, and highly accurate way to measure and monitor your brain health. Our Precision Neurology platform and app-based medical device transform your smartphone or tablet into the world’s most powerful tool to assess brain function.
By completing a series of augmented reality and motor activities on a smartphone or tablet, Altoida’s device extracts and provides robust measurements of brain function across 13 unique neurocognitive domains. Our device measures and analyzes nearly 800 multimodal cognitive and functional digital biomarkers backed by 11 years of clinical validation.
To learn more about sleep and brain health or Altoida’s Precision Neurology platform and medical device, contact us today.