Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy You
How much is enough?
With busy schedules, it’s often difficult to get enough shut-eye. Sleep can often be the most neglected, but one of the most important, habits of a healthy life. It provides energy, makes you more alert, reduces your risk of health problems like heart disease, diabetes and depression, and improves your memory and brain function.
The average person spends one-third of their life sleeping, which is far from being unproductive. In fact, some very important functions occur during sleep like growth, muscle repair, immune system function and more.
So how much is enough? Sleep experts agree that most adults need 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night for optimal health.
If we short ourselves on sleep, our bodies cannot complete all of the phases of sleep needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and the release of hormones which promote growth and regulate our appetite. In turn, we wake up less able to concentrate, make decisions, or be most productive at work or in a learning environment.
When we sleep, our body follows a pattern of alternating REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep during a typical night in a cycle that repeats about every 90 minutes. Click here to learn what happens during a typical night’s sleep.
Here are some tips to help you get a great night’s sleep:
- Have a consistent sleep and wake schedule, even on the weekend.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, like reading or taking a warm bath, an hour before bedtime.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.
- Use your bedroom for sleep only – no television, computers or cell phones.
- Finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly and be sure to complete it at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco which can all inhibit sleep quality.
If you have trouble falling asleep, get up and do something like read or watch television until you feel sleepy. For more information on healthy sleep habits or sleep issues, you can visit the Sleep Foundation’s website.