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Published on January 29, 2018

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Getting Passionate About Sleep

If you want to damage your immune system and catch more colds, all while being absent minded and confused, just keep on cutting back on your sleep.

“There are three important components to sleep, and if any of them is overlooked, you could be harming yourself,” said Patrice Jerke, RRT, Avera Home Medical Equipment Regional Clinical Manager. “We spend one-third of our life sleeping, and we need to be passionate about getting proper rest – it’s not an exaggeration to say our health and life depends on it.”

The Elements of Good Rest

Most people need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep.

“It can vary from person to person, and a good way to test your need is to sleep without an alarm and see when you wake up,” she said.

Sleep timing or circadian rhythms are hard-wired parts of our makeup as humans. We naturally wake up as the sun lights the sky and we grow sleepy – and our bodies produce melatonin – as it gets dark.

A complex group of conditions, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, can affect sleep.

“While there are medical devices and approaches that can help treat these conditions, seeing your primary care physician is where to start,” Jerke said.

Why Passion is Needed

Aside from safety hazards, like driving while drowsy, a lack of rest hits our bodies – and our mind and spirit – with a vengeance.

“Our immune systems do not work as well when we’re tired, and our mental acuity is diminished. Our brains don’t fire as well, especially when it comes to recall,” said Jerke. “Many studies have shown that people who fail to get ample rest also will have shorter lifespans.”

Prioritizing rest with the tips below can help you reconnect to this life-giving rest that makes other health goals possible. Under the guidance of your physician or, in many cases, a pulmonologist, additional tools and resources available with home medical equipment professionals also can aid you.

Watch for additional insight on common quality-depriving sleep conditions in another Avera Balance blog coming soon.

Tips to Get the Most from Your Sleep

Those stupid screens: We live in a world with tremendous “light pollution.” Shut down computers, tablets and phones at least two hours before you lie down.

Watch what you ingest: Caffeine is a no-no after 2 p.m., experts will say, but it can vary depending on your sleep needs and your bedtime. You might think alcohol would help you sleep, but it doesn’t – it affects the quality of sleep and is more likely to make you wake before morning. Over-the-counter medications with inherent stimulants also are to be avoided before bed.

Redefine your room: Take steps to make your bedroom your oasis, a place free from chores, work and screens, where it’s plenty dark and you feel like lounging and more importantly, sleeping. Break the habit of making your bedroom an office or workspace.

Routines always help: Daily exercise and a relaxing routine to wind down your day always will help you fall asleep when you lie down and prepare for bed. We are a “go-go-go” culture, but we can put that get-things-done attitude to work when it comes to rest, too. So find methods – prayer, meditation, reading, a shower – that can help you be ready when it comes time to sleep.

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