Resources for Better Sleep Health

Education is key to treatment.

Your sleep health is essential to your physical and mental well-being. Our sleep specialists at Novant Health can provide the resources you need to get a proper diagnosis and effective treatment for your sleep disorder.


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Sleep and your immune system

In addition to depression, obesity, diabetes and other chronic health conditions, there is growing evidence that lack of sleep can weaken your immune response. In other words, neglecting your sleep could make you more vulnerable to getting the cold, flu or some other acute viral infection, or less able to fight it.

Poor sleep may also disrupt these other vital processes in the short term:

  • Metabolism, by interfering with how your body uses insulin to regulate and extract energy from blood sugar (glucose).
  • Appetite, by interfering with the hormones that make you feel hungry
  • Cognition, by interfering with your ability to think

Health effects can worsen with time

If ignored long enough, sleep problems can aggravate existing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and depression, or even lead to them.

How much sleep do you need?

While adults generally require around 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, and adolescents should average about 9 to 10 hours, it’s important to listen to your body. If you're moody, sluggish or have trouble focusing during the day, that could indicate you need more sleep, or are sleeping poorly.

Learn how to sleep better.

If you're not getting the restful sleep you need, it may be time to think about improving your sleep hygiene. Here are some tips for getting a better night's sleep from The National Sleep Foundation to get you started.

  • Create and follow a wind-down routine: Try to be consistent not only in when you go to bed, but how and when you begin preparing for bed.
  • Create a calming environment: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and comfortably cool to create a restful atmosphere.
  • Turn off blue screen devices: Turn off your personal devices (smartphones, tablet or laptop computers) and TVs at least one hour before bedtime to keep the blue light they emit from interfering with your sleep.
  • Don’t share your bed with a pet: Allowing your pet to sleep with you can disrupt your sleep. Get them in the habit of sleeping on their own bed.
  • Avoid eating three hours before retiring for the night to give your body time to digest.
  • Drinking water or other liquids before bed may result in waking up during the night. However, a small glass of warm milk can help you sleep.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine, tobacco and chocolate several hours before bedtime.

Stress can trigger the production of hormones that make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Lack of sleep, meanwhile, can elevate your level of stress. So, you can add getting a good night’s sleep to the health benefits of learning how to manage stress. Here are some ways to get started.

  • Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation put your mind and body in a restful state. Remember not to use apps, since blue light can disrupt your sleep.
  • Exercise wisely: Aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, but avoid vigorous exercise within two hours of bedtime.

Sleep solutions for snoring

Alcohol and nicotine contribute to inflammation and congestion in your sinuses, which can result in snoring.

Sleeping pills and other sedatives can relax the muscles in your throat, leading to more obstruction and snoring.

Allergies can cause nasal obstructions, making breathing more difficult and snoring to occur.

Sleeping on your side reduces the compression of your airways. That makes breathing easier, reducing the likelihood of snoring.

Questions about sleep?

Ask yourself if you're getting the recommended hours of sleep for your age and health. You may need more sleep if you're tired or irritable during the day. If you feel another medical condition is interrupting your sleep, ask your primary care provider about whether you might benefit from consulting a sleep specialist.

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When you’re under stress, your body can release cortisol and adrenaline. While these hormones are beneficial during waking hours for energy and focus, they can significantly interfere with your sleep.

These stimulants increase blood pressure, heart rate and brain activity. That takes your body from a restful to a restless state.

Alcohol is a depressant, which may help in falling asleep. However, it also disrupts your sleep cycle, keeping you from the deep sleep essential to a good night's rest.