Most people don’t get enough sleep and feel tired throughout the day. This might be because of work, stress, family obligations, or a myriad of other reasons. It is really important that you get enough sleep at night because that is your body’s time to heal itself.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to many illnesses, including (but not limited to) cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer. At best you might just have an overall lack of energy that can make for tired, unproductive days.
Sleep loss can also affect your mood. You probably already know that you’re not getting enough sleep. Now you might be wondering how much sleep should I be getting?
There is no magic number for how many hours of sleep you should get because everyone is different. The National Sleep Foundation, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and Sleep Research Society recommend that adults get 7-9 hours a sleep every night. While the amount of sleep you need, can vary depending on your age, lifestyle and health, 7-9 hours is a good goal to set yourself if you are trying to get more sleep.
Now that you know how much sleep you should be getting, you might be feeling overwhelmed at how you’re going to get those hours.
· Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Sleeping should be scheduled into your day just like anything else. When you go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, your body will eventually get used to it and you develop a habit.
· Limit the amount of caffeine and other stimulants. A good rule of thumb is to not drink coffee in the afternoon. Drinking alcohol at night might make you fall asleep easily, but when your body starts to metabolize the alcohol it can disrupt your sleep cycle.
· Turn off the electronics! I think most of us are probably guilty of checking our phones before bed, but this is not a good habit to get into. You may have heard of blue light that comes from your phone or computer screen. This blue light reduces melatonin in your body, which can affect your sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythm). Try charging your phone on the other side of your bedroom so you are not tempted to look at it.
· Exercise daily. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you sleep better at night. If you don’t have enough time for a full workout, try to at least walk around the block or on the treadmill.
· Make your bedroom comfortable. Are your mattress and pillow comfortable? Does your bedroom stay dark and quiet? These are all things that can contribute to not sleeping well throughout the night.
It’s also important to know that the effects of sleep loss build up over time, so getting just one good night of sleep does not eliminate your “sleep debt.” This why it’s really vital to set a sleep schedule so that even if there are nights that you cannot get your full 7-9 hours, at least most nights you will be getting it.
When life gets in the way of a good night’s sleep, it’s even more important to prioritize sleeping. This will lead to more productive days and an overall healthier life!