Sleep Awareness Week is a week dedicated to sleep health from March 10th to the 16th. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this year’s theme is “Begin with Sleep” and it highlights the importance of good sleep health in order to meet your life goals and increase overall well-being. Chronic poor sleep has been proven to increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Age, diet, and lifestyle are the three major factors that can contribute to poor sleep.

Age

The older you are, the less sleep you need. However, it does not differ as much as people think. Teens need 8-10 hours while adults need 7-9 hours. Adults are less likely to reach those hours due to added stressors involving work or family and lack of time management. One way to ensure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep is to set a reminder for when to go to bed. By doing this you are less likely to get caught up in something else, such as TV or reading, and go to bed at a time that allows you to get the recommended amount of sleep.

Diet

Your diet can affect your sleep depending on what, how much, and when you consume certain foods. Caffeine is a staple in many American’s diet, both young and old. Too much caffeine throughout the day, or caffeine before bed, can disrupt the sleep cycle. Foods that cause Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) can disrupt sleep due to nighttime heartburn, especially when food is eaten before bed. In order to avoid food interfering with your sleep, be sure to stop eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle can affect sleep as well. Having a more active lifestyle can help promote better and longer sleep. A stressful or sedentary lifestyle can cause an individual to be restless and potentially develop sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Tips on How to Sleep Well and Reach your Goals

  • This includes phones, televisions, and laptops.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
  • Avoid long naps. If a nap is necessary, make sure it is 30 minutes or less.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep. This can include adjusting or adding pillows, mattress toppers, or adjusting the temperature.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual to wind down from the day.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation, Healthy People. 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.