GET MORE SLEEP!!!
All of us are insanely busy and I know sleep is not at the top of our priority list. Yes, everyone does need different amounts of sleep, but are you getting the right amount for you?
Many of us want to sleep as little as possible—or feel like we have to. There are so many things that seem more interesting or important than getting a few more hours of sleep. We all know exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health but we sometimes ignore that so is sleep. The quality of your sleep affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental health, productivity, emotional balance, physical vitality, and even your weight!!
Your biological clock or circadian rhythm, is regulated by processes in the brain that respond to how long you’ve been awake and the changes between light and dark. At night, your body responds to the loss of daylight by producing melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. During the day, sunlight triggers the brain to inhibit melatonin production so you feel awake and alert.
Adapted from: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (PDF) The National Institutes of Health
How many hours of sleep do you need?
|Average Sleep Needs|
|Newborns (0-2 months)||12 – 18|
|Infants (3 months to 1 year)||14 – 15|
|Toddlers (1 to 3 years)||12 – 14|
|Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)||11 – 13|
|School-aged children (5 to 12 years)||10 – 11|
|Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years)||8.5 – 10|
|Adults (18+)||7.5 – 9|
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than 7 hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, 6 or 7 hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more (see box at right). And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.
This is not a one size fits all chart! Go by how you feel, if you are feeling tired and groggy you simply need more sleep!
It may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness.
The effects of sleep deprivation and chronic lack of sleep
Wonder why you sleep better on Vacation!!? Your room is set up for good sleep and you are less stressed.
So what can you do to set your room up for better sleep?
Step One: To increase melatonin levels at night, turn off any sources of light, including the television and the computer. The light produced by the screen tells the brain to reduce melatonin production and stimulates the mind instead of making it relax.
Use only low-wattage bulbs in your bedroom. When it is time to sleep, make the room as dark as possible. Try to cover any source of light such as electrical displays and windows that let in light from the street. You can also use an eye mask to shut out light. When you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, use a flashlight.
Step Two: Keep it cool. The right temperature and adequate ventilation ensures that you’re comfortable throughout the night. When it’s too hot or too cold, sleep can get disrupted.
Step Three: Keep sound out. If noise cannot be completely eliminated, “drown” it with another sound that is relaxing, such as soothing music, recorded sounds of nature (ocean waves, light rain), even the drone of a fan or muted, white noise from a radio. When all else fails, use earplugs to block out outside noise.
Step Four: De-clutter your room. Do not put exercise equipment in your bedroom. Keep electronic devices (such as a cell phone) that may disrupt sleep out of your sanctuary as much as possible. If you must have your cell phone nearby, make sure it is face down so the light will not wake you when you receive a notification or a call and turn the volume down or put the phone on vibrate. Additionally, do not put a television in your room so you can avoid watching right before going to bed.
Step Five: Lie in comfort. Choose a bed that is most comfortable for you. It should be big enough to allow you to turn and stretch comfortably. The mattress and the pillow/s should be have the right balance of softness and firmness to make lying down comfortable, provide adequate support, and should not cause back or neck pain when you wake up.
Step Six: Use your bedroom exclusively for sleeping and sex. Do not work on your bed and in your bedroom. This will help your body associate being inside your sleep sanctuary with resting and sleeping.
A good night’s sleep should not be a luxury that you can only afford to enjoy once in a while. It is one of the body’s most essential needs and should be satisfied every night. Turn your bedroom into a place of rest and refuge for your mind and body and you will always wake up refreshed, energized, and ready for anything the day may bring.
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