Be honest—have you ever driven past a billboard or convenience store advertising the lottery and thought, how great would it be if I won that…?

It’s not even a question; we’ve probably all had that thought cross our minds at least once or twice in our lives, even though the chances or winning are 1 in 4 million. Those odds aren’t so hopeful, more like impossible, but what I’m suggesting here is that there’s a surefire way to feel as though you’ve won the lottery. How? With sleep.

In a recent study published in the journal Sleep, researchers followed over 30,000 patients and found that better sleep was similar in affecting how you felt as winning over $247,000! They measured “well-being” using several well-studied and standardized surveys like the General Health Questionnaire and Short-Form Health Survey. Another interesting aspect of the study was that the group with the best sleep also took the least sleep medications.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up feeling refreshed and revived? Here’s how you can make it happen:

  1. Sleep longer. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed by this and suddenly try to change your whole routine. Start off gradually, by going to bed just 30 minutes earlier each night.
  2. Improve your sleep hygiene. You may have never thought of “sleep” and “hygiene” in the same sentence, but this is what that looks like: a dark room, no TV watching or reading books in bed, and minimized cell phone use. Why? To keep your mind distraction-free and ready for rest.
  3. Offload your mind. Is your mind racing when you lay down to sleep?  Here are some ways to combat that:
    1. Exercise hard. Exercise reduces stress and makes you so tired so that you can fall asleep earlier.
    2. Write down what you need to remember to do. Do this so that you don’t stress out about forgetting what you need to do as you lie in bed. Better yet, finally utilize that Calendar app and use it to “remember” things for you.
    3. De-stress. Stress itself is far too big of a topic to talk about here but it’s critical to reduce stress, not just for sleep but also for health, and for avoiding sentences with too many commas.
  4. Turn down the heat. People like to be warm, but most people actually sleep better and longer in a cooler room. Turn down the thermostat, pile on less blankets, and see how that can actually make you feel more rested when you wake up.
  5. Minimize not only water, but especially caffeine after dinner. Caffeine keeps you up and water can make you get up from sleep to use the bathroom.


About the Author

Harvey Hahn, MD, FACC

Dr. Hahn graduated from Loma Linda University in 1994. He is currently the director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program at the Kettering Medical Center in Kettering Ohio.

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