The Key to Healthy New Year’s Resolutions: Sleep

2 years ago

Healthy Smiles By Rita Tempel, DDS – This column was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, January 17, 2019

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, or improve your health? Dentists such as myself remind you to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, to avoid acidic foods and beverages such as soda, and to see your dentist at least twice a year.

But, here’s a new twist on resolutions: What if I told you there’s a great “new” habit that could make all of the above resolutions fall into place? What is this magical habit?

The key, in one word, is sleep. Restful, consistent sleep not only helps you lose weight, but charges your batteries so that you have more energy, and helps you feel good mentally and physically.

Sleep hygiene, according to the Centers for Disease Control, includes the following tips:

  • Be consistent: Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends.
  • Set the scene: Your bedroom should have a comfortable temperature and a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment.
  • Unplug: Remove your electronic devices including televisions, computers, phones, and tablets from the bedroom.
  • Eat smart: No large meals or snacks, caffeine or alcohol, close to bedtime.
  • Be active: Planning some exercise into your day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

As a Qualified Sleep Dentist (by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine), I am able to identify signs that you may not be getting restful, rejuvenating sleep just by what I see in your mouth. Even if you went to bed and had a full eight hours of “sleep,” if you woke up during the night (because you snored, your bed partner snored, you got up to go to the bathroom, or you were wide awake), then you are not receiving restful sleep.

Sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) prevents your body from getting a restful night’s sleep. So even if you have great sleep hygiene habits, if you have OSA, you are receiving poor, interrupted, unhealthy sleep which can cause weight gain, nocturia (frequent urination during night), anxiety, and depression, and contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and more. 

It’s never too late to learn new habits! Try a new, New Year’s resolution: Resolve to improve your sleep habits with the above tips. And if you’re not waking up feeling rested, or if your sleep is interrupted, speak to your physician, a sleep physician or a Qualified Sleep Dentist.

Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles, a cosmetic and family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is an Accreditation Candidate of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and an American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine Qualified Dentist. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow Gettysburg Smiles on Facebook, or call 717-339-0033.

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