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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Get Some Sleep! Advice for the Ages

Published March 5, 2014 12:40 AM by Chuck Holt

Japan’s Misao Okawa turns 116 years old today, making her the world’s oldest living person. [http://tinyurl.com/ljhatk8]

Among Okawa’s tips for a long life include eating sushi at least once a month and most importantly getting plenty of sleep. “You have to learn to relax” and nap as needed, she says. 

It’s not only sage advice, but also the kind that is never too early to begin following.

On March 3, the National Sleep Foundation released the results of the 2014 Sleep in America poll. This year’s poll “took a deeper look into the sleep practices and beliefs of the modern family with school-aged children,” according to the NSF.

An annual study that began in 1991, this year's poll finds children sleep better when parents establish rules, limit technology and set a good example.

Based on the results from the 2014 poll, NSF recommends trying  these 10 tips to improve your child's sleep:

1. Make sleep a healthy priority in your family’s busy schedule.
2. Set appropriate and consistent bedtimes for yourself and your children and stick to them.
3. Know how your child is using electronics in the bedroom. Create a plan for appropriate use at night and set boundaries about use before and after bedtime.
4. Educate yourself and your child on how light from electronic device screens can interfere with sleep. 
5. Talk to your child about the importance of sleep for health and well-being. 
6. Talk to your child’s teacher(s) about your child’s alertness during the day. Let your child’s teacher(s) know you want to be made aware if your child is falling asleep in school.
7.  Remember that you are a role model to your child; set a good example. 
8. Create a sleep-supportive bedroom and home environment, dimming the lights prior to bedtime and controlling the temperature (in most cases, temperatures above 75° F and below 54° F will disrupt sleep).
9. Try to encourage activities such as reading or listening to music before bedtime instead of watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web.
10. Make sure children’s activities, including homework, can be completed without interfering with bedtimes.

For more on the benefits of sleep, don’t miss the ADVANCE article “Sufficient Slumber” in the Lifestyle for Nurses section of our online edition. [http://tinyurl.com/9kgw3nu] The article by staff writer Rebecca Mayer Knutsen looks closely at home sleep tests and asks whether they provide a less expensive and more convenient alternative for diagnosing sleep apnea. An involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs while the patient is asleep, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans. Risk factors of sleep apnea include being male, overweight and over the age of 40, but the condition is known to affect any age.

“People who are constantly tired in the daytime or having difficulty concentrating after getting a full night of sleep should make an appointment with a board certified sleep physician,” a doctor specializing in sleep tells ADVANCE. "If you present with any of the known symptoms and have a body mass index (BMI) over 30, a neck larger than 18 inches around, or high blood pressure, you may be a great candidate for taking a home sleep test." The at-home sleep apnea test, just like a full sleep study, must be prescribed, notes the physician.

What do you prescribe for a good night’s sleep? 

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