We’ve all been there… lying awake at night, tossing-and-turning, looking at the clock and then staring at the ceiling. Time seems as though it is moving at a snails pace, yet, you find yourself wondering how it got to be 2 A.M. already.
We often take the necessity of a good night sleep for granted, not fully understanding the impact it can have on us. The optimum amount of sleep needed varies depending on age: newborns need 16-18 hours a day, toddlers 11-12 hours, elementary school kids around 10 hours, adolescents between 9-10 hours, and adults somewhere around 8 hours. Many adults don’t get their full 8 hours of sleep, believing that they can “catch up” on the weekend. Well, unfortunately the idea of sleeping in on the weekends is only a myth. Bubble busted!
A research study at Penn State University deprived participants of their full 8 hours of sleep and then tested their physical and mental speed. Following this sleep deprivation, they gave participants two nights of “catch up” sleep and found that their physical and mental speed did not improve with this simulated weekend-type sleep. You may feel better to some degree with extra weekend sleep, but your mind and body will not be as sharp as they could be.
Here are some helpful tips on how to sleep better and more regularly:
1. Have a consistent routine for sleep. If you can go to sleep at a similar time every night and wake up at a similar time every morning, you will be putting yourself on a schedule to optimize your sleeping pattern.
2. Help your stress levels before bed by doing something that relaxes you. Maybe this is reading a book, listening to soothing music, or enjoying a warm bath. Unless you feel calm, you are going to have a difficult time sleeping peacefully.
3. Keep work materials and technological distractions out of the bedroom. Having a television or computer in the room before you sleep is a big distraction to you being able to fall asleep at a planned time.
4. If you work out, do so at least 2 hours before going to bed. After you work out, adrenaline is pumping and your body isn’t ready to shut itself down for the night.
5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Both can interfere with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
6. Transform your bedroom into a sleep haven! A dark, quiet, comfortable room will set you up for the best night sleep you can possibly get.
The Mayo Clinic has more information on tips to improve your sleep. Take a look now to get started on improving this important aspect of life!
Written By: Alison O’Hara, M.A.