While sleep needs are individual, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for most adults. Even if we’re snoozing for “long enough,” many of us feel our sleep itself isn’t quite “good enough.” Take a look at how Americans rated their sleep quality in a NSF survey:1
Here are a few pointers that may increase your chances of having better sleep quality:
Sleeping is so much more than an item to check-off your To-Do list—you need to sleep. And for best results, follow your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you fight it—or sleep on an irregular schedule—you tend to feel off your game.
Pick a bedtime and a wake-up time and stick with them as often as you can. On the weekend, try not to sleep more than an hour or two extra. Practicing a sleep routine will get your brain and body used to being on a healthy schedule and you’ll have an easier time falling asleep at night and waking up the next morning. 2
Before getting into bed for the night, prepare your body and mind for sleep. The idea is to calm down, so try to avoid close-to-bedtime heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes—not to mention heavy conversations or strenuous exercise—all of these can wind you up! With this in mind, find activities to get yourself into the right “headspace” for sleeping: take a bath, slather on aromatherapy lotion, read a book, listen to soothing music, do some gentle yoga stretches or tai chi…whatever helps you fall asleep when you need to.
If you depend on naps during the day, you may not be getting enough rest at night. But if you do snooze during the day, try and keep it to 20 minutes or less—and the earlier in the day, the better.3 Long naps, especially close to bedtime, can interfere with falling asleep for the long-haul.
Getting physical activity is part of the recipe for a healthy lifestyle. It’s good for your body and mind—and can even help you sleep better at night. According to NSFlink opens in a new window, “as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially when done on a regular basis (and) exercisers may reduce their risk for developing troublesome sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.”
Keep in mind: you’ll want to avoid vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you head to bed.3 It might leave you too energized to drift off.
Follow these guidelines to help you get comfortable—and keep you from counting sheep:
If you’ve been trying your best to secure a great night’s sleep—but you’re still tossing and turning—it’s a good idea to talk to a professional.
According to a NSF survey1,
A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and help you determine if there’s an underlying medical condition getting in your way. They can help you find the right form of treatment so you’ll be on your way to a wonderful night’s rest.
1 "Sleep Health Index 2014 - Highlights." National Sleep Foundation.
2 Cduford. "How to Get on a Sleep Schedule." Sleep.Org ,Nov. 2014.
3 "Insomnia: Sleep Tips Slideshow." WebMD. Oct. 2016.
4 "Healthy Sleep Tips." National Sleep Foundation.
5 Schmerler, Jessica. "Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?" Scientific American. , Aug. 2015. .
6 Lehrman, Celia Kuperszmid. "The Best Pillow for a Good Night's Sleep." Consumer Reports. Jan. 2016.
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