By: Dr. Dennis McCool, Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Memorial Hospital

As we spring ahead for daylight saving time and lose an hour of sleep, try these tips for maintaining a healthy sleep schedule:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help boost productivity during the day. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least seven hours of sleep for adults and 11 to 12 hours a night for children.

  • Avoid stimulants such as soda, coffee or chocolate up to six hours before bedtime. Stimulants can help you feel alert when you need to, but they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Shut off electronics. Studies have shown that the brightness of any electronic screen can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Turning your device off 30 to 40 minutes before bedtime will help you relax and get your brain into sleep mode. Can’t put the device down? Try adjusting your settings to the dimmest light possible. Some smart devices even have a setting for nighttime.

  • Exercise regularly. We all know that a consistent exercise regimen can help prevent chronic disease but did you know it can also help you sleep better? A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation showed that moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week (about 22 minutes per day) provided better sleep quality in more than 60 percent of participants.

  • Talk it out. Can’t sleep because you’re too stressed? Try talking to a friend or family member about what’s bothering you or write it down in a journal. The ability to expel stress can help our brains move on and bypass sleeplessness. If that doesn’t work, then try reading a book or meditation to help relieve anxiety.

We Can Help

If you think there’s a medical reason why you’re not sleeping, the staff in Care New England’s sleep centers might be able to help. Call the center at Memorial Hospital at (401) 729-2636 or at Kent Hospital at (401) 737-7000, ext. 31621 to learn more.