How to Help Your Patients Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Are your patients suffering with sleep deprivation?
It should be easy to get more sleep. But in the US, a deeply-ingrained cultural belief in productivity has impacted sleep patterns and habits of people of all ages.
Our “always on” culture has taught us that we will “sleep when we’re dead.” Over many years of their adult lives, your patients have been:
- Pulling the all-nighters during finals week in college
- Getting to work early and staying late to “crush” goals
- Answering emails at all hours, no matter what’s happening
- Losing sleep taking care of children in the middle of the night
- And waking up at 5 am to get a workout in before work
So it’s very likely that they are unknowingly depriving themselves of sleep. According to the CDC, at least one third of American adults get less than the minimal recommended 7 hours of sleep per night.
So how can you get your patients on board with getting the rest they desperately need?
It starts with educating them on why it is so important to rest.
The Short Term Downside of Sleep Deprivation
Multiple studies found that less sleep leads to mood disorders, fuzzy thinking and impaired motor skills.
Cognitively, it negatively affects creative thinking, problem-solving, and concentration skills. It also makes memory and learned skills harder to recall. Physically, it can make balancing and reaction time difficult, making you more prone to falls or accidents.
Long Term Sleep Deprivation Leads to Chronic Disease
Adults who reported being short on sleep were more likely to report being obese and physically inactive. Chronic sleep deprivation has also been linked to higher rates of:
- Alzheimer’s and memory disorders
- Heart disease
- Obesity and cardiometabolic disease
- And depression and mood disorders
The good news is that your patients can lower their risk of all of these chronic illnesses by committing to improving their sleep habits.
3 Ways to Help Clients Sleep Better
When you emphasize the importance of sleep, you’ll get better overall outcomes for your patients. With a little guidance, your patients can get back on the healthy sleep train. You can have them start by getting a baseline measure of their current sleep patterns.
#1: Assign the Well World™ Food Diary Challenge
If your patients aren’t already on a plan, you can have them track what they’re eating with the basic Food Diary option.
The Food Diaries range from 7-28 days, and are a simple plan option to enable patients to track whatever they are eating or drinking, as well as lifestyle metrics like sleep. There are no recipes or meal plans, and your patients can track whatever they typically eat in a week.
With at least 7 days of diary, you can see what their usual eating habits look like.
It may become obvious after a week that they drink way too many cups of coffee during the day. Or that their light lunch leads to a large dinner, which disrupts their deep sleep patterns. Or on the weekend, their weekday routine goes out the window which means later nights and less sleep.
Once you have gained a clearer picture, you can keep them on the Food Diary or assign a new nutrition plan to support their energy and sleep goals.
#2: Have Your Patients Track their Sleep in the Well World™ app
When you assign the food diary, you can also have your patients track their sleep for at least one week in the Well World app. Under the Body section of the app, they can manually add:
- Number of hours slept
- Number of times they woke up during the night
- Quality of sleep
- Time they went to bed
Or, your patients can also use a sleep tracker device or mobile app to track their sleep, and sync the data with the Well World app!
Once they have tracked several nights of sleep, you can support them with advice on improving their habits.
#3: Offer Supplements that Support Sleep through Well World™
If patients still have trouble getting to sleep or staying to sleep, you can recommend supplements that may support better sleep right through your Well World portal. Your patients can follow your recommendations, and keep track of when and how much to take. Examples include:
- Melatonin – a sleep regulator hormone that you produce naturally, it rises about 2 hours before bedtime to help you fall asleep. Melatonin has been found to support a healthier circadian rhythm.
- L-Theanine – this amino acid is typically found in green tea and some mushrooms. Studies have found that it can work in synergy with melatonin to promote relaxation.
- GABA – this amino acid occurs naturally in the body and is one of the main calming agent.
- 5-HTP – this amino acid is the precursor to serotonin. Studies have found that it can promotes melatonin production during the night to help with staying asleep.
Once you gain some insight as to why a client isn’t sleeping, you can also assign them a nutrition plan to support overall wellness goals, or a plan to help resolve underlying health conditions.
If you can get your patients to get on board and make quality sleep a priority in their lives, they will likely experience improvements in mood, decreased stress levels, and key health markers improve.