Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep
Many factors can interfere with a good night's sleep, from work stress and family responsibilities to illnesses. It's no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.
You might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep. However, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple tips.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule.
Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don't need more than eight hours in bed to be well rested.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle.
If you don't fall asleep within about 20 minutes of going to bed, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you're tired. Repeat as needed, but continue to maintain your sleep schedule and wake-up time.
2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink.
Don't go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Discomfort might keep you up.
Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can interfere with sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
3. Create a restful environment.
Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. Exposure to light in the evenings might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan, or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.
4. Limit daytime naps.
Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. Limit naps to no more than one hour, and avoid napping late in the day.
However, if you work nights, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.
5. Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. However, avoid being active too close to bedtime.
Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.
6. Manage worries
Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what's on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.
Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organised, setting priorities, and delegating tasks. Meditation can also ease anxiety.
How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?
The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors, especially your age.
Sleep quality. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, you're not getting quality sleep. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity.
Previous sleep deprivation If you're sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.
Pregnancy. Changes in hormone levels and physical discomfort can result in poor sleep quality.
Ageing. Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. As you get older, however, your sleeping patterns might change. Older adults tend to sleep more lightly, take longer to start sleeping, and sleep for shorter time spans than do younger adults. Older adults also tend to wake up multiple times during the night.
For kids, getting the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis is linked with better health, including improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, the ability to control emotions, quality of life, and mental and physical health.
For adults, getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis has been linked with poor health, including weight gain, having a body mass index of 30 or higher, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.
If you're concerned about the amount of sleep you or your child is getting, talk to your doctor or your child's doctor.