Did you know that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep (CDC, 2021)? Universally, industry health experts recommend that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is considered an essential function necessary to maintaining and maximizing health, safety, and quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2021), lack of sleep is linked to several chronic diseases and conditions, including: Type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Additionally, when we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to experience irritability, encounter memory challenges or forgetfulness, and engage in fall or accident events.
When we get enough sleep, we recharge both physically and mentally. For our minds, sleep directly impacts brain performance. Adequate sleep can enhance our concentration, help regulate our mood, and, lastly, contribute to improving our cognitive performance. Moreover, from a physical health perspective, sleep assists with rejuvenating our immune system, balancing our hormones, and healing and repairing our blood vessels and heart (NIH).
The National Institute on Aging (2021) recommends the following ways to help you get all of your necessary Zzz’s including:
• Sleep Schedule – Maintain a consistent sleep schedule every day. If taking a nap is part of your day, generally, avoid late afternoon or evening naps.
• Bedtime Routine – Take time to relax before bedtime each night. Examples of this may include a taking a shower or bath before bed, listening to soothing music, or enjoying a book. Try to avoid watching television or using a cell phone, computer, tablet, etc. as these electronics can make it difficult to fall asleep.
• Environment – In addition to maintaining a comfortable temperature in your bedroom (not too cool and not too warm), try to minimize any loud or disruptive noises.
• Exercise & Meals – Exercise regularly every day, but preferably, not within three hours of your bedtime. Try to avoid large meals close to bedtime and, also, to limit caffeine intake late in the day.
If you wake up tired or struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep throughout the night, you should talk with your primary care provider. Your doctor can help explore possible causes and offer additional, individualized recommendations to help you improve your sleep experience.