The ABCs of Healthy ZZZs

Most people need between seven and nine hours to move through all of the stages of sleep, including deep sleep. “While we need all sleep stages, deep sleep is what makes us feel rested. It’s also essential for good brain function, memory and mood,” says Roper St. Francis Healthcare sleep specialist Amber Hoffman. Just three or four nights of poor sleep can cause irritability, paranoia, weight gain, depression, anxiety, extreme fatigue, hormonal imbalances, decreased motivation and reduced immunity. Chronic deprivation caused by sleep apnea also physically damages the organs and brain.

The BenefitsA good night’s sleep that cycles through all the sleep stages

• Allows the brain to create and store new memories and information
• Helps the body balance hormones and regenerate cells
• Reverses brain damage caused by untreated sleep apnea

Best Practices Good sleep hygiene involves habits that can improve sleep and overall health

• Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including the weekends.

• Make your bedroom dark, quiet and cool.

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals at least four hours before hitting the sack, and be careful about drinking too much water just before bed.

• Banish electronics such as TVs, laptops and smartphones from the room, and steer clear of electronic screens an hour before bed.


Everyone has trouble falling asleep sometimes. When insomnia strikes, don’t try to force yourself to sleep. Get up and do something relaxing, such as reading a book (paper, not electronic) or taking a bath. If anxiety has you staring at the clock in the wee hours, try an easy meditation or just focus on your breathing and the physical sensations in the moment.