A good night’s sleep is just as important to good health as healthy eating and regular exercise. Doctors recommend 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for adults and up to 10 to 12 hours for children and teens. While most people experience trouble sleeping from time to time, chronic sleep loss can have a negative effect on physical and mental health and is reason to consult your physician. Developing good sleep habits can help combat those occasional sleepless nights and ensure that you wake up refreshed and energized.
- Use your bed and bedroom exclusively for sleep and sex so that you associate getting into bed with going to sleep.
- Follow a regular bedtime routine to prepare your body and mind for sleep. Bedtime routines allow time to separate daily stresses from sleep time. Establishing a regular pattern of events that lead to sleep — brushing teeth, washing face, soaking in a hot bath, putting on lotion, reading in bed, listening to soothing music, etc. — cues your body and mind to relax and prepare for sleep.
- Set a regular time for going to bed and getting up and stick to it. Repetition will train your body and mind to a healthy sleep/wake cycle.
- Do not eat or drink within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime. Avoid stimulants like tea, coffee, nicotine and alcohol. You want your body to be concentrating on sleep, not digestion.
- Exercise regularly but not within six hours of bedtime. Exercise is energizing and your body will need time to relax.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Mattresses wear out after about 10 years. To ensure a comfortable and restful sleep, a mattress should be firm enough to properly support your body. If you wake up achy or your mattress sags, it’s time to buy a new one.
- Create a sleep-promoting environment. Most people sleep best in dark, cool rooms; so close the blinds and turn the thermostat down a few degrees at night.
- Avoid disturbing noises. If you live in a noisy neighborhood, close the windows at night. A bedside fan or white-noise machine creates a steady, soothing sound that blocks noise and helps many people sleep comfortably.