Tips for Better Sleep-02-02It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of total sleep, not including periods when lying awake. The general population gets less than this ideal.

By not sleeping enough, we accumulate sleep debt. Sleep debt is bad for health and happiness. Studies have found it can take up to a month of unrestricted sleep to rebalance oneself.

TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

  • Light, especially the bluish light from screens, have been shown to suppress hormones like melatonin that promote sleepiness. Black-out shades and orange-colored nightlights are ideal.
  • Adjust the thermostat for cooler temperatures at night regardless of season. 60-70 F is ideal range.
    Warm room temperatures above 75F often lead to sleep disruption.
  • Our bodies are very sensitive to temperature as we sleep, especially during REM stage. Feeling hot or cold tends to wake us up and produce more restless sleep.
  • Climate control is the most important function of sheets and bedding as body temperature affects the flow of our circadian rhythms.
  • The human system loves a consistent schedule which leads to longer REM and deep-sleep stages.
  • Sleeping in on the weekend can be counter-productive and lead to what is called “weekend jet lag.”
  • Exercise is beneficial leading to deeper levels of sleep, reduced waking and improved mood the next day. Even 2-3 days a week of moderate exercise can improve sleep.
  • Napping is natural and effective way to recharge the brain. A 20 min nap can increase productivity by 30% or more because deep and REM sleep consolidate the memory and enhance learning. Limit naps to 20 minutes unless you can sleep a full, uninterrupted 90-min sleep cycle. Waking in the middle of a deep-sleep cycle can leave you feeling more tired and groggy than taking no nap.
  • Dozing in front of the TV leads to poor-quality sleep as changes from light to dark and noise are disruptive to deep sleep (your brain still processes such stimuli even in sleep).
  • Don’t go to bed hungry. A small snack (~200 calories) of light protein and carbs like cereal before bed is ideal for calming and keeping you asleep by maintaining blood glucose levels through the night.
  • Alcohol is the world’s most common “sleep aid.” But the increased drowsiness wears off quickly as a rebound effect leads to increased waking, sleep fragmentation, night sweats and poorer sleep.
  • Caffeinated foods and drink are best consumed before 3pm to insure no effect on sleep. The “half-life” of caffeine in the body is 5-8 hours so it can regularly disrupt sleep for many.