Good sleeping habits help promote overall good health


Do you sleep well? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. After looking at articles about sleep, here’s what I found: 

We all know that good sleep equals good health. We are asleep for one-third of our lives, after all. We also know that if a person is severely sleep deprived, they begin to hallucinate, have trouble focusing or concentrating, and are susceptible to physical problems.

Researcher Steven Slahor, in writing for the Journal on Law and Order, said, “The bare minimum needed to live, not just thrive, is four hours per 24-hour period.” 

So, lack of sleep can be deadly? Yes, it can. Fortunately, most people do sleep, just not very well. Slahor goes on to say, “seven to nine hours of sleep are needed for health, renewal, learning and memory.”

Despite all the information we have about the importance of sleep, sleep health in America is grim. 

A good resource I found is According to SleepHealth, “50 to 70 million people have sleep disorders. About one third of us, which equals to about 84 million, do not sleep regularly or don’t get the recommended sleep.”

I fall into this category. Maybe you do, too.

Let’s talk about why we sleep in the first place. The brain is doing something for its own benefit, but we don’t know exactly what that is. Recent research seems to suggest that sleep helps rid your brain of toxins that build up during waking hours.

Different parts of your brain help with sleep, including the brain stem, thalamus and pineal gland, among others. 

The brain and body, however, are still very active during sleep. 

Our body enters into a state of paralysis, so we don’t act out during sleep and dreaming. In fact, we drift in and out of the 90-minute sleep cycle all night (you should research information on the sleep cycles if you are interested). Suffice to say here that we need deep sleep to feel rested the next day (deep sleep happens in stage three).

Insomnia, which is a very common sleep problem, escalated 11-fold between 1992 and 2015, according to one study I read. According to the same study, health care costs increase by 80 percent when sleep disorders are diagnosed.   

We can theorize that other sleep problems likely increased as well. Like restless leg syndrome, non-REM sleep arousal and circadian rhythm concerns. The pandemic didn’t help things, either. 

What can you do?  Here are some tips that I found:

  1. Lower the thermostat. If the room is too warm, your body will be, too.
  2. Get checked for sleep apnea via a sleep study.
  3. Reduce your anxiousness before bed by taking a hot bath (my wife swears by this one). 
  4. Don’t just lay there awake. Get up and read or do something until you feel tired.
  5. See your doctor if you can’t sleep. Most sleep problems can be treated effectively.
  6. Make a to-do list at night before going to bed, especially if you wake up thinking about what you need to do the next day. Worrying about tomorrow can keep you up at night.   
  7. Don’t scroll on your phone in bed. I know, it’s a hard habit to break. But you can do it. It seems the blue light emitted by your phone may be telling your body it’s time to wake up.
  8. Rethink having your pet sleep with you. I never thought of this one until I read it, but it makes sense.
  9. Avoid alcohol or nicotine before bed. Drink warm milk instead. My grandma used to give me a warm cup of milk before bedtime. Maybe grandma was right.
  10. Don’t try to sleep if you’re angry. Strong emotions will interrupt sleep. Try to go to bed with a positive, calm feeling if possible. 
  11. Deep breathing will help. Sit comfortably and take deep breaths. Say to yourself as you breathe in, “just,” and as you breathe out, “relax.” You will be surprised how calming this is after just a few breaths.

So, sleep well my friends!


Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at