PORTLAND -- You're home from work and it's been a long day. How do you help your body wind down for a good night's rest?
It's important to fall into a nightly routine, said Providence sleep expert Doctor Bill Bowerfind.
The primary thing here is a period of relaxation and winding down. It's hard to go from a busy day at work, right to bed and expect your body to be able to fall asleep fast, said Dr. Bowerfind.
He added that the evening routine is one of the most important factors in preparing your body for rest. You need a wind-down period and this includes a routine which often is individualized. It might include a warm bath for some people. It might include some quiet reading, he said.
Relaxation just before bed and I try to avoid using my bedroom for anything other than sleep, said Krista Halliday, a Portland resident who said she used to have insomnia until she figured out that she needed a nightly routine.
Bowerfind said any activities that you're pursuing before bedtime should be done outside of where you sleep. The bed is for sleep and intimacy only and that these other activities should be done outside the bedroom so that we develop clear associations with the bed that this is where we go to sleep.
He also said it's just as important for your kids to have a night time schedule. Preschoolers generally need somewhere between 11 and up to 13 hours of sleep. Kids up to the age of 11 need somewhere between 10 and 11 hours of sleep, he said. If they don't get enough sleep, it can lead to lower academic performance, behavioral issues, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Adults are no exception.
Not only do we not feel well when we don't get the proper rest, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a lot of health problems, Bowerfind said. Among those are increased risk of or poorly managed diabetes, increased risk of a number of heart problems, decreased attention and decreased memory throughout the day.
Bowerfind also said it's very important that teenagers get sleep because in the last few years alone there has been an increase of motor vehicle accidents among sleep-deprived teens.