It’s no secret that people enjoy their sleep. With day light savings next week and the prospect of “losing” an hour of sleep looming over everyone’s heads, getting a good sleep is the topic on everyone’s mind.  People like to feel rested and have energy, but at the same time an estimated 50-70 million US adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder.  An adult should be getting an average of of 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but most are not. Why is it so important that this changes?  Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

Sleep plays a vital role in health and overall well-being. Good sleep habits and patterns help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.  Sleep is also involved in healing and repairing of your heart and blood vessels.  Sleep also helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin).

There are some people who are more likely to be sleep deficient such as shift workers, caregivers, people with more than one job, or people who must travel for work.  Limiting caffeine towards the end of the shift, asking family and friends to avoid phone calls and visits during your sleeping hours, and not running errands on your way home from work can help if you frequently work the night shift.

Even with contributors to sleep deficiency, there are strategies and tips that can help form  better sleep habits.  Understanding the importance of sleep is only the first step in sleep awareness. The next step is doing something about it.  Look below for some tips on how to achieve better sleep, and start working on it today!

Tips for Better Sleep

  • Set a schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even on weekends, try to limit any variance to no more than an hour.
  • Avoid.  Try to avoid drinking alcohol or eating heavy meals before bed.  Also try to not drink caffeine less than 6 hours before trying to sleep.
  • Minimize. Work on minimizing light, noise, and excessive hot or cold temperatures where you sleep.

Sources: NIH, CDC, WebMD. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.