Everett Clinic pumonologist, Dr. Sridar Chalaka wrote for the Herald's Health & Wellness feature, "Sleep well - and enjoy better health."
For years, my wife used to tell me to go to bed early. I used to tell her that I needed time to unwind, but the truth was I liked watching movies.
Instead of getting seven to eight hours, I used to get only five or six hours of sleep. She used to call me a hypocrite as I spent my days telling my patients about the importance of sleep.
In my late 30s, I gained weight, my blood pressure started to climb and I was slowly becoming irritable and impatient.
Two years ago, I don't exactly know why, I started getting 30-60 minutes more sleep every night. I began noticing many wonderful things happening to me!
Both my weight and blood pressure started to come down. I am almost off all my blood pressure medications. I am waking up full of energy.
Even after 10 hours of helping patients I have energy to go to the gym to workout. In my 18th year of practice I find myself loving being a doctor more than ever, and my family is grateful for my newfound pleasant temperament.
I wish I had taken my own advice many years ago.
Getting good sleep and treating sleep problems, such as snoring and apnea, has been shown to decrease the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, heart rhythm problems (which end up requiring life-long blood thinners and sometimes pacemakers), heart failure, strokes, arthritis and even cancer.
Getting good sleep every night is the most important thing we can do to improve our health. During sleep our body rests and repairs itself. By not getting enough sleep our bodies age prematurely.
Dr. Sridar Chalaka is a pulmonologist with The Everett Clinic Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine department.
Tips for better sleep
- Set a strict bed-time and wake-up time and stick to them. Use an alarm clock.
- No exercise, cigarettes, caffeine, alcohol or sweets three to four hours before bed.
- Reduce screen time. Remove bright devices from the bedroom (TV, cellphone, other handheld devices)
- Sleep in a quiet and dark environment.
- If you have recurrent anxiety-provoking or worrisome thoughts while trying to sleep, get out of bed and write them down.
- If you think you need a sleep evaluation, contact a board certified pulmonary and sleep specialist physician.