Sleep is an important part of health that is often overlooked. One out of three Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleep. Most healthy adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night and school-aged children (6-12 years old) need nine to twelve hours each night. Sleep doesn’t just affect your energy, but it relates to your overall emotional and physical well-being. Not getting enough sleep is associated with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and clinical depression.
There are some steps you can take to improve your overall sleep quality.
- Establish a routine sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. This window of sleep should be at least 7 hours long and be consistent even on weekends.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping your room quiet, dark, relaxing and at a cool temperature. If you work a night shift, purchase blackout curtains or an eye mask to block sunlight.
- Keep your room tech-free. Limit TV, computer, and smartphone use at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Establish a bedtime routine, such as meditation or reading, that is relaxing and prepares your body for rest.
- Exercise regularly. Routine exercise will help you sleep more soundly throughout the night.
- Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon. This may make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol reduces REM sleep, an important component of restful sleep, and can leave you feeling less rested the next day.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, try deep breathing and counting exercises. After 20 minutes if you still cannot fall asleep, get out of bed try again later.
Consider keeping a sleep diary to document your sleep habits and routine.