I’ve been treating patients with sleep disordered breathing for about 10 years. Originally, I was screening patients for signs and symptoms of obstructed airway disease and how I could recommend the best course of treatment with specialists. But in 2007, I stepped up my training and became an accredited member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Now I conduct general rounds at the local sleep medicine clinic and provide therapy for patients who suffer from sleep apnea or obstructed airway disorders.
When I consult with patients about the best way to breathe during sleep, I recommend more than just direct therapy with a CPAP or an oral appliance to breathe better. I am also reinforcing the definition of what it means to prepare them for sleep. So here are a few tips I can share about how you can change your sleep lifestyle to improve your sleep performance.
1) Watch when and what you eat before bed.
a. Eating within 2 hours of sleep time disrupts your body’s ability to prepare for a beneficial sleep cycle. Body chemistry is altered when eating too soon before you hit the pillow, and it disrupts sleep.
b. Many of us love to have something to eat before bed, and the stuff that makes us feel satisfied is comfort-type foods–rich and higher in fats. These types of foods alter body chemistry and disrupt sleep too. Low-fat, protein-rich foods are best.
2) Watch when and what you drink before bed.
a. Alcohol will disrupt a sleep cycle and derail sleep. It dehydrates as well as introduces a higher level of blood sugar when the body metabolizes alcohol during critical sleep periods.
b. Hydration an hour or so before your sleep time will help optimize your sleep performance.
3) Preparing for bed with a routine that helps your body start the sleep cycle right.
a. Reading or simply lying down and having a chance to converse with your significant other or simply collect your thoughts after your busy day will allow your body to set the tone for better sleep. Meditation techniques are also helpful.
b. Avoid electronics, TV, tablet, and phone use an hour before sleep.
c. Daily exercise enhances your body’s ability to prepare for sleep.
4) Create a calming environment.
a. If you need time to wind down and need light before you fall asleep, Low, indirect lighting in your bedroom on a timer is best.
b. Make sure you can create a dark room. Blackout curtains, shades drawn, doors closed.
c. A quieter room is a better room for sleep. If you have trouble making a quiet place, try an ambient noise machine to create consistent background for sleep.
d. A cooler room, about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, is best.
5) A comfortable bed and using it right!
a. A mattress should support your body well in a good sleep position without promoting soreness or muscles aches.
b. The best sleep positions for better breathing are on your side or on your back. Slightly elevating your upper half of your body is OK too.
c. Use a contoured foam pillow that cradles the neck while on your side or back without constricting your neck.
Here’s to better sleep!
Chris Rafoth is the owner of Lyons Creek Dental Care, providing medical dentistry, dental implants, and facial esthetics since 1998 for Shoreline and greater Seattle areas, as well as communities in King and Snohomish counties. Any questions or comments? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org today!