Sleep is as essential to your well-being as healthy diet and exercise. Chronic lack of sleep can increase blood pressure, contribute to stress and weight gain, and affect your judgment, leading to car accidents and poor work performance.
How Much is Enough?
Sleep researchers have found that people who regularly sleep less than six or more than nine hours a night don't live as long as those who get closer to eight hours of solid rest on most nights. To determine if you're getting enough rest, answer the following questions:
Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up on time or feeling refreshed after sleeping?
Do you have at least one of the following problems:
- Low energy?
- Attention, concentration or memory problems?
- Poor work performance?
- Daytime sleepiness?
- Making errors at work or while driving?
- Frustration or worry about your sleep?
If you answered yes to several of these questions, it's likely you're not getting adequate sleep and could benefit from the following sleep hygiene methods.
Steps to Take
- Don't go to bed unless sleepy.
- If not sleepy at bedtime, find something relaxing, but not stimulating, to do If not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing
- Establish rituals that help relaxation each night before bed. This can include such things as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading
- Avoid taking naps, or, try to keep naps to less than an hour. Never nap after 3 p.m.
- Keep a regular schedule. Try to eat meals, take medications, exercise and perform other activities at the same time every day. This will help keep your inner body clock running smoothly
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of bedtime
- Exercise regularly, but not within six hours of bedtime
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool
Try these sleep hygiene tips for two or three months. If you continue to have trouble sleeping or getting enough rest after that, see your doctor.
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