Hey CFE family!
Were you aware that we spend about a third of our lives asleep? That’s about an average of 122 days a
year – but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), about 1 in 3 adults in the
United States get inadequate sleep. As human beings, we probably could live longer without food than
we could without sleep!
Recently my department at UH had an event about the importance of sleep, and what I learned was too
awesome to just keep to myself. My faculty colleague (Dr. Candice Alfano) is a clinical psychologist,
professor, and Director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston. – she’s even working with NASA to
study sleep patterns of individuals living at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in hopes to learn more about
sending astronauts to Mars and beyond! Along with what was shared with us, I outline below some
basic tips to get better quality sleep!
1) Put down the screen – I do the same thing, I admit it! I’m on my phone when I’m trying to go to
sleep and keep it charging on the bedside table. The light our cell phones emit is called blue
light – and gives the signal to our brain that we should be awake. Try plugging your phone in
across the room so you’re not tempted to pick it up, and look at settings like Bedtime on the
IPhone to cut down on the brightness.
2) Stick to a regular schedule – as much as you can, set a regular bedtime – this consistency will
help you be in the mindset that it is time to sleep. Your body can tell the difference between
going to bed at 11 pm rather than 10 pm and that may impact how you feel tomorrow.
3) Stop drinking caffeine after noon – coffee, soda, and energy drinks stay in your system for a
long time! Try cutting back on the caffeinated beverages earlier in the day.
4) Expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning – this will wake you up quickly and
helps hit the reset button on your day. The earlier that is done, the better your body can settle
in to its routine for the day!
5) Eat a light snack before bedtime – the right snack will cause your brain to release serotonin,
which aids sleep. Aim for high carb snacks (no more than 200 calories) with a little bit of
6) Keep that bedroom COLD – it is recommended that you keep your bedroom cooler at night
(around 67 degrees), as colder air helps lower your body temperature. This is a signal to your
brain that it needs to slow down and get some rest.
7) Keep naps only when necessary – when we sleep for longer periods of time, our bodies enter a
natural circadian rhythm throughout the night. Prolonged naps throughout the day have a way
of throwing our bodies throughout the day. Experts encourage us to aim for 7 continuous hours
of sleep – this increases our chances of getting deep restful sleep. One’s ability to dream is also
impacted. If you cannot remember your dreams or have found yourself not dreaming for a
while, you may not be getting the deep restful sleep you need.
8) Workout in the morning – shout out to my fellow 5 am’ers! I’ve been trying to get back in the
swing of going to our 5 am class – and it sure does help with my sleep. While there is evidence
that shows benefits from working out a different times of the day, lots of it point to the benefits
of an early AM workout. Not only do you leave feeling accomplished and refreshed for your
day, your body will have a more restful and reparative sleep at the end of the day.