CINCINNATI—When hygiene is mentioned, washing hands, brushing teeth and general cleanliness come to mind.
But Victoria Surdulescu, MD, of the department of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, says there’s more to hygiene than soap and water.
“Sleep hygiene is essential in maintaining health,” she says.
To highlight this idea, the UC Sleep Center will partner with In-Touch Magazine for an educational sleep event Oct. 11.
Surdulescu will discuss different approaches to sleep, including the effects of nutrition and age on a good night’s rest.
The event will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the UC Sleep Center in West Chester. It is free and open to the public.
Surdulescu says in all cases, the key to sleeping well is routine.
“It’s the most important aspect in maintaining good sleep habits,” she says. “Just as routine helps a person in all other areas of his or her life, it helps with rest as well.”
Routine helps the body to wind down and eliminates stimulation of the brain around bed time, she says.
Surdulescu says even small activities like brushing teeth or taking a bath helps your body prepare for sleep.
“It has been scientifically proven that increasing a person’s core body temperature, which is accomplished during a bath, promotes deeper sleep,” she says, adding that she typically warns against late-night showers. “Showers tend to be energizing.”
Surdulescu also says that avoiding stimulants including coffee, soda or chocolate after 3 p.m. is advised for a more restful sleep.
“It can take up to eight hours for caffeine to metabolize in your system,” she says.
Other factors for a better night’s sleep include exercising in the morning or during the day as opposed to the evening, providing a dark, quiet and cool sleeping environment and associating the bed with rest.
“The only activities that should be performed in the bedroom are sleep and sex,” Surdulescu says. “Many people, watch TV, play with their pets or do crafts on their bed. That creates an association with activity in the bedroom and can lead to sleep problems.”
Surdulescu says that people should also avoid being on the computer late at night and falling asleep in front of the television.
Even reading in bed shouldn't be done if a person has trouble falling or staying asleep, she says.
She adds that it is important to go to bed and get up at the same times every day.
“The maximum amount of varied sleep we can handle is about two hours,” she says. “People also need eight hours of sleep a night, despite what they may think. Five hours is typically not enough to keep a healthy person energized throughout the day.”