As we roll into 2019, millions of Americans are sketching out New Year’s resolutions—promising to get more organized, or to do more traveling, or to tuck more money away for the future.
Almost a full quarter of Americans will have self-care, including getting more sleep, on their list of resolutions.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you don’t need studies and data to tell you that consistently losing sleep makes even getting through a normal day a slog. So is 2019 the year you’re committing to taking better care of yourself—and getting better, deeper and more consistent rest? If so, here are a few practical “clean sleeping” tips and pointers to get you started.
Commit to using, and cleaning, your CPAP machine
For a sleep apnea sufferer to get the best benefits out of a CPAP machine, he or she needs to use it consistently and keep it clean.
From the National Sleep Foundation: “If a person commits to using the CPAP correctly and for the whole night, the benefit is often very clear. People feel more refreshed, alert, and energetic during the day.”
Using it means getting comfortable with your machine and mask, and getting into a routine. Just like any New Year’s resolution, sticking with it is the key.
As for keeping your CPAP clean: It’s an important task that helps avoid breeding germs or bacteria, or developing mineral deposits—and it can be a quick, simple thing to do every day, with the help of the SoClean Automated PAP Disinfecting Device. (Now available at our store in The Villages.)
You don’t even need to disassemble your mask, hose and reservoir—SoClean is a close-and-go solution that takes minutes each day, and destroys 99.9 percent of CPAP germs and bacteria. Using SoClean can help make this an easy (and more than worthwhile) resolution to keep.
Reboot your bedroom
If you haven’t taken the time to create a retreat of restful vibes, use the New Year as an excuse—setting up a space that caters to your needs is important, since our bodies respond to cues from our surroundings.
Most of us benefit from darkness, so think about whether room-darkening curtains or stowing away blinking electronics might help your mood. (And don’t turn your nose up at a sleep mask if pitch-darkness is a real need.) Cooler temperatures have also been shown to help (experts say turning the thermostat down 5 to 10 degrees can do the trick).
Having noise problems? Smartphone sleep apps come with an array of options, from white noise to calming instrumental music. Add clean, soft linens, and maybe a little lavender or jasmine linen spray (some people swear by those scents for relaxation), and you’re on your way to a slumber-friendly space.
Set a sleep schedule
Humans are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to basic biological functions like sleep. Many studies have shown that creating and sticking to a fairly strict sleep schedule—getting to bed and getting up at the same time every day—helps train your body to fall asleep and stay asleep easier. Adding a routine helps too. Lots of parents create one for kids: bath, brushing teeth, pajamas, story, song, night-night. You might be surprised by how well the specific repetition works to wind down us big kids, too.
Pay attention to what and when you’re eating and drinking before bed
Our bodies are complex machines, and how we fuel them affects pretty much every function, including sleep.
Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep. – Ana Krieger, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine
More simply: Eat better, sleep better. Some pro tips:
— Nix the late-day caffeine, and try to lay off heavy alcohol consumption close to bedtime too.
— Shoot for big breakfasts, and lighter dinners, so you’re asking your body to do its major digestion during the day. Skip really fatty and spicy stuff late in the day, too.
— Taking in more fat and sugar and less fiber can contribute to less restorative sleep. So look toward more nutrient-rich, fiber-rich foods.
— Drink plenty of water, but don’t chug before bed. Dehydration can cause lots of problems, including sleep interruptions, but pre-bed H20 overloads make you wake up in the middle of the night. Shoot for steady hydration throughout the day.
Plan to be active, and to wind down
Getting in some aerobic or resistance training has a positive effect on sleep quality, studies have shown. But if you struggle with sleep, shoot for morning or afternoon workouts, since rigorous exercise pumps up your endorphins, and getting that boost right before bedtime can make it hard to wind down.
If you find you have been getting sick more than usual, a dirty CPAP machine may be why. Some of our customers have told us their recurring sinus infections are gone. With flu season upon us, if you use a CPAP or BiPAP, you really should invest in a SoClean.