I'm usually a good sleeper: Go lie in bed around 10:30 p.m. and read until 11 p.m., then lights off and I'm off to sleep. I wake up around 7 a.m., so I definitely get my seven recommended hours of sleep every night.
The last few weeks, though, I've been either having problems falling asleep or waking up several times during the night. I wanted to find out what could be causing this and see what I can do to get my sleep pattern back to normal. There are too many risks from not getting enough sleep, including impaired mood and memory, dampened immune system and an increased risk of accidents! Yikes.
- The thing I have come across most is that adults need between 7-8 hours of sleep. Older adults might even need more - or a nap during the day - if they continually wake up groggy or exhausted.
- Another thing is bed size - apparently size does matter! It should be large enough that you can stretch and turn (even with a bedmate).
- As far as atmosphere goes, the room you sleep in should have low noise and be dark at night. Even computer screens and TV screens can trick your body from their false light! Sleep masks or heavy shades can keep all light distraction down.
- Room temperature is a big one. Helpguide.org reports most people sleep best in slightly cooler temps.
- Do not eat or drink large amount of anything right before bed! This can wake you up in the night because you'll have to use the restroom.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evenings. This is hard for me because I love to have a latte after work but I have definitely noticed that if I wait too late, until 7 p.m. or after, I have problems falling asleep at my regular time.
- Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime. All that adrenaline pumping can keep you up for hours!
- Another big one: Avoid watching TV in bed. The bedroom should only be used for sleep and sex, to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for sleep, to get both your mind and body ready to drift off and relax:
- Listening to soft music or books on tape
- Light snack, hot tea or warm milk
- Knitting, puzzles, or other hobbies
Help.org has much more information, from handling stress and anxiety that keeps you up at night to optimizing your sleep schedule and improving your diet and exercising. The National Sleep Foundation also has great tips on healthy sleeping.
Looks like I'll be turning down the thermostat, turning off the TV, and avoiding my late-day lattes. Hopefully that will help! If not, I can always use Kavinace.
Happy sleeping! Share any sleep tips you have with us. We'd love to hear them.