The day is winding down and you’re getting ready for bed. You brush your teeth, you take a shower, you wash your face. When it comes to preparing for sleep, our teeth or skin hygiene is second nature, but actual bedtime, or sleep hygiene, isn’t as obvious.

Janet Millar, the coordinator for student counseling at CSUB, sees the serious detriments of lack of sleep in students almost every day.

“We’ve seen the psychological effects lack of sleep has on someone and how they’re not able to do some things they normally do,” Millar said.

Problematic sleeping isn’t exclusive to students. As a rule of thumb, Millar said to not use your bed for anything other than sleep or sex.

And the adage of keeping computers or anything with a light-emitting screen away from you before bed time is true.

“We’re a dark-deprived society,” Millar said. “Brains respond to blue light as if we’re waking up. Orange light is more sleep inducing.”

Lighting is crucial, but so is temperature. Keeping your room at a range between 67 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit helps you sleep as well, Millar said.

These changes appear minimal, but the effects are drastic. With at least 8.6 million Americans using sleeping pills to help them get to sleep and many relying on that morning cup of coffee to fight off sleepiness the following morning, why haven’t we tried changing our sleep hygiene when we know what lack of sleep can do?

Millar said that someone with no sleep often becomes restless, forgetful, distracted and has a lack of energy. A person’s decision-making and attention diminishes.

“The limbic system in the brain becomes hypersensitive; people can become more emotional because of this,” Millar said.

There are physiological effects of lack of sleep too. Millar said that people can put on weight because of increased cortisol due to lack of sleep. Getting little sleep increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, obesity and diabetes as well.

After a particularly restless night, lack of sleep might only seem like a slight annoyance. But over time, it can lead to some serious problems. Practicing good sleep hygiene can lead you back on the path to a fulfilling night of sleep and keep you attentive and less at risk for serious health problems. 

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