Top 7 sleep tips: use the time change to jumpstart healthier sleep habits

Nov. 3, 2017
Good sleep habits lead to better health. Photo: Getty Images.

Exhaustion and problems getting enough sleep top the list of concerns that Dr. Michael Dewey and other primary care providers hear from their patients.

During the fall time change, you get to score an extra hour of sleep. At 2 a.m., you can “fall back” an hour or adjust your clock from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m., and go back to sleep. Of course, there’s no need to rise in the middle of night and change your clocks.

But, you can use the time change and that extra hour of sleep to renew your commitment to getting a better night’s sleep.

A Colorado native and family medicine doctor, Dewey cares for patients at the UCHealth Family Medicine Clinic in Westminster.

Dr. Dewey grew up in Conifer close to the mountains. He loves cycling, snowboarding and hiking. He and his wife, Jessica, have a young son and daughter.

Dr. Michael Dewey of UCHealth Family Medicine in Westminster, enjoys hiking with his daughter, Eliza. Dr. Dewey says lifestyle changes, like getting enough exercise, can make a big difference in getting better sleep.

Sleep deprivation among new parents like the Deweys can be a challenge. But all of us can boost our health by getting a better night’s sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to diverse health problems from obesity to Alzheimer’s.

Many patients assume medications are the best path to a good night’s sleep. But, Dewey said behavioral changes can have a far greater impact. For about 90 percent of patients, good sleep hygiene can make all the difference.

“We all lead very busy lives and for a lot of people, it’s hard to find time for themselves. We say, ‘I’ll just stay up an extra hour. I’ll get one more thing done.’”

But, says Dewey, “you have to prioritize yourself and take care of yourself.”

A commitment to getting enough sleep is a cornerstone of good health.

Nine times out of 10, Dewey says tinkering with your diet, exercise regimen and your sleep hygiene can fix sleep problems.

Even better, good sleep habits can have lasting impacts while medications only promote short-term fixes. What’s more, researchers are finding that people get deeper, higher-quality sleep when they rest naturally versus relying on sleep medications.

So, do yourself a favor and use this weekend as a springboard for better sleep. Here are Dr. Dewey’s top 7 tips for getting a better night’s sleep.

Top sleep tips:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, including on weekends.
  • Avoid exposure to light-emitting devices, like laptops, phones, TVs and computers for at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
  • Create an atmosphere that promotes sleep in your bedroom. Keep the temperature cool. Keep the room dark and quiet and make your room a device-free oasis.
  • Get regular exercise, but avoid exercising within 2 hours of going to bed.
  • Watch your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine after noon.
  • Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • If you are having regular difficulty getting enough sleep, discuss your sleep challenges with your health care provider.

The UCHealth Family Medicine Clinic in Westminster provides care for patients of all ages. To reach Dr. Dewey or any of the other providers in Westminster, please call 720-848-9400 or visit the clinic’s website.

About the author

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a proud Colorado native. She attended Colorado College, thanks to a merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation, and worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park during summer breaks from college. She is also a storyteller. She loves getting to know UCHealth patients and providers and sharing their inspiring stories.

Katie spent years working as a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and was a finalist with a team of reporters for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a deadly wildfire in Glenwood Springs in 1994. Katie was the first reporter in the U.S. to track down and interview survivors of the tragic blaze, which left 14 firefighters dead.

She covered an array of beats over the years, including the environment, politics, education and criminal justice. She also loved covering stories in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court during a stint as the Rocky’s reporter in Washington, D.C.

Katie then worked as a reporter for an online health news site before joining the UCHealth team in 2017.

Katie and her husband Cyrus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, have three children. The family loves traveling together anywhere from Glacier National Park to Cuba.