Do you have healthy sleep habits?
This week is National Sleep Awareness Week, an annual campaign created by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to promote healthy sleep habits. The annual week of sleep awareness finishes on a day that is infamous for disrupting sleep schedules — the start of daylight saving time.
According to the NSF, adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Getting less sleep can have serious consequences on health and safety. In fact, an NSF study reported people who get an average of 6 hours or less sleep per night were significantly more likely to have fallen asleep while driving compared with those who got an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
In addition to creating a risk to public safety, self-reported inadequate sleep has been associated with unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, physical inactivity and obesity. Individuals dealing with insufficient sleep frequently live with excessive sleepiness.
Each person’s body needs a certain amount of sleep, and sleep needs change over a lifetime. Teens and young adults may need more than 9 hours of sleep. Older adults may nap during the day to make up for waking more often during the night. Regardless of age, it is important that we get adequate sleep. Our physical and emotional health and safety depend on it.
Here are a few simple things you can do to get a healthy, restful night of sleep and improve your alertness and productivity during the day:
- Make a sleeping space that is comfortable, dark (for most of us) and a bit cool.
- Use your sleeping space only for sleep and sex.
- Remove all distractions (phone, TV, homework, projects, computer, etc.) from your sleeping space.
- Create and follow a quiet, calming bedtime routine. Do not do strenuous exercise within 3 hours before bedtime. You can take a bath or a shower if that relaxes you. For some, reading a book or listening to calming music for a while before going to bed is relaxing.
- Create and follow a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid big meals before bedtime. A light snack (yogurt, milk or crackers) prior to bedtime can satisfy hunger.
- Avoid using nicotine and alcohol before bedtime, as both can interfere with sleep.
If you are experiencing sleep-related issues on a regular basis, call one of two Norton Sleep Center locations — Norton Audubon Hospital at (502) 636-7459 or Norton Brownsboro Hospital at (502) 394-6370.