Steps for More, and Better, Sleep
Jonathon Youshaei stashed this in Productivity
Whoa, adults need 9-10 hours of sleep?!
About 70 million Americans sleep poorly or not nearly long enough to achieve the full physical, emotional and cognitive benefits sleep can bestow. There are myriad reasons, ranging from self-inflicted disruptions to those that are seemingly unavoidable. But there are also potential solutions to most of the factors that can interfere with sleep. For the sake of your health and longevity, I urge you to give them a try.
How much sleep do you need? Sleep requirements depend on age. Newborns sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours, and elementary school children need 10 hours. Adolescents should get 9 to 10 hours, though most teenagers sleep only about seven hours.
I thought adults should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep!
Losing an extra two hours in each day would be very challenging.
Try to get the same amount of sleep on weekends as weekdays:
Given the opportunity to sleep as long as they want, most adults average about eight hours a night. There are individual differences, of course, but the usual range is between seven and nine hours. Getting less than the amount of sleep you need during the school or workweek builds up a sleep debt that cannot be fully erased by “sleeping in” on the weekend. This pattern can also mess up your biological clock, making it hard to get up on Monday morning.
I do like his suggestions:
If noise or light disturbs your sleep, you can counter them with a white-noise machine and light-blocking shades. Keep the room cool and avoid weighty covers. Two years ago, I summarized factors that commonly interfere with a good night’s sleep, but a quick review, followed by some valuable new tips that have helped me, may help you too.
EXERCISE Physical activity leaves you tired, but if you do your workout within two or three hours of bedtime, you may be too revved up to fall asleep easily.
MEDICATION Many drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, contain stimulating chemicals like pseudoephedrine and caffeine, commonly found in decongestants and painkillers. Beta-blockers, used to treat certain heart conditions and high blood pressure, may be disruptive as well. Ask your doctor if you can use an alternative drug.
FOOD AND DRINK Eating a big meal close to bedtime can be a problem, especially if you are prone to indigestion. Drinking a caffeinated beverage late in the day can disturb the sleep of anyone who has not developed a tolerance to caffeine by drinking too much of it. Caffeine’s stimulating effects can last for six to eight hours and make it hard to fall asleep or cause middle-of-the-night wakefulness.
Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but when its effects wear off hours later, you may wake up and be unable to get back to sleep. (I and others I know find wine especially problematic and avoid drinking it with dinner.)
STRESS Anxiety, excessive stress and difficulty shutting out worries trigger the release of body chemicals that act as stimulants. Try a relaxing bedtime ritual like a hot bath, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, starting at the toes and working up to your head. Or, odd though it may seem, try reading something dull.
If things you must remember or do the next day keep popping into your head, put a pad and pen next to the bed, write them down and then do your best to forget about them until morning.
OTHER TIPS Years ago I mentioned that leg cramps were waking me up well before the alarm, and readers responded with myriad solutions, from bedtime stretches to magnesium supplements. What has worked best: drinking about eight ounces of tonic water (diet version) every day. Tonic water contains modest amounts of quinine, which used to be sold over-the-counter to reduce leg cramps.
Another innocuous sleep aid that has proved miraculous for me is a nightly supplement of melatonin, which the body naturally produces after dark. The pineal gland in the brain is inactive during the day, but after sundown it starts spewing melatonin into the bloodstream.
Real sleep...hmmmm, real darkness...real night... when was the last time we experienced real darkness and only the sounds of nature during our sleep?