Are you sick and tired of not getting enough sleep? Make some changes in your lifestyle and routine that could get you the rest you need.
How much sleep do you need?
According to Michael Presti, a neurologist and sleep specialist with Providence Medical Group — Medford Neurology, you need different amounts of sleep throughout the different stages of your life. In general, there is an inverse relationship between age and sleep requirements — the older you get, the less you sleep.
Everyone is different, Presti confirms, which is why an individual's sleep requirements may differ from the norm. Still, it's helpful to know what average sleep times are for different age ranges. The normal approximate sleep times per day are 16-plus hours for newborns, 12 to 14 hours for children aged 1 to 3, 11 to 13 hours for children aged 3 to 5, 9 to 11 hours for children aged 5 to 18 and 7 to 9 hours for adults.
Set yourself up to sleep
When people are unable to get an adequate quantity or quality of sleep because of psychological factors, behavioral techniques collectively referred to as sleep hygiene and stimulus control can be extremely effective, Presti explains.
Sleep hygiene refers to optimizing the sleep environment. It includes measures such as creating a quiet, cool, dark sleep setting. It also entails avoiding potentially stimulating foods, drinks, medications or activities in the hours before your desired sleep time. Daytime napping and irregular morning wake times should also be avoided.
Stimulus-control techniques refer to minimizing time spent awake in bed, eliminating alerting influences from the bedroom and only using the bed and bedroom for sleep and intimacy. These techniques are designed to re-establish the bedroom as a sleep-inducing environment, Presti says.
Michael Schwartz, the insomnia education coordinator at the Rogue Valley Sleep Center, has more sleep-inducing tips starting with turning off cell phones and laptops in the bedroom. Their noise can potentially wake you and electronic blue light is the most stimulating to the brain.
Other tips include getting exercise during the day and limiting caffeine and alcohol, which is not a sleep aid. Also, keep a consistent wake time. "It anchors your circadian rhythm — the natural sleep-wake rhythm produced by the brain," Schwartz, a licensed sleep technologist, says. "That consistency with the sleep schedule is very important." You can't make yourself fall asleep at night, he notes, but you can set an alarm to wake you in the morning.
Give yourself time to wind down in the evenings before bedtime. If you wake in the night, don't look at the clock. It just makes you anxious about falling back to sleep. And if you simply cannot fall back to sleep, get up, Schwartz advises. "You want to allow sleep to return," he says. "Do something low light, low noise and low tech."