LPNI Health Topic – April 2017


Sleep, Living Lives in Balance

The National Sleep Foundation has announced Sleep Awareness Week to be April 23-29 this year.  Sleep is one of the main ingredients for keeping balance in our lives. When we have the proper amount of rest, we are more productive, more able to listen and learn, and even solve the most complex of problems. Adequate sleep has a positive effect on our mood, concentration levels, and diet. Living a wake and sleep balanced life can be a struggle for many.

It has been found that teenagers and young adults need much more sleep and rest than they get each night. As we age, many need less sleep, some as few as 6 hours but others need as many as 10 hours. Sleep deprivation may cause drowsiness during the day decreasing productivity, increasing the chance for personal injury, auto accidents and other safety issues, as well as lessened problem-solving skills. Understanding the various causes of decreased sleep is the first step in achieving a wake sleep balance.


Technology is the most recent cause of insomnia. Watching videos, answering emails, or playing electronic games can make the body tense and increase the stress hormone. Also, the “glow” from these devices negatively affects the hypothalamus (control center for sleep) and decreases the level of melatonin, the natural sleep hormone. Televisions can also cause these negative effects. Fear of sleep and sleep apnea can also interfere with adequate sleep and rest.


Sleep can be enhanced by a routine bedtime, sleeping in a cool room, dimming lights later in the evening, and  eating a light bedtime snack of carbohydrates or tryptophan rich foods. Further, sleep enhancement can come from decreasing intake of fatty foods within 4 hours of bedtime, as they increase digestive action. Eliminating caffeine, including medications that have this ingredient, about 6 hours before bedtime will help encourage sleep. Keeping the bedroom free of technology, television, and noise will also aid sleep. A healthy balance of wakefulness and sleep takes time to develop and become a routine, but it is well worth the positive effects that it has on one’s life.


Hope Knight, RN, Parish Nurse

District Representative for Oklahoma, USA