Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Are you feeling sleepy right now? There’s a decent chance you are, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week, with 62% trying to “shake it off” as their primary response, says the NSF.

Those who feel sleepy even more often – five to seven days a week – report especially high rates of irritability (52%), headaches (40%), and feeling unwell (34%).

Clearly, the quality and amount of our sleep directly impacts our health. But it works both ways – poor sleep could be an indicator of illness. “Not getting the restorative benefit of sleep when you give yourself enough time for sleep could be a sign of other issues and should not be ignored,” said Dr. Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi of Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The NSF recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for adults aged 18-64 and seven to eight hours for adults aged 65 and over. How do you know you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep? You’ll wake up feeling refreshed, alert, and able to be fully productive throughout your waking hours.

The National Institute on Aging offers these tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or when you are traveling.
  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening, if you can. Naps may keep you awake at night.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
  • Try not to watch television or use your computer, cell phone, or tablet in the bedroom. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. And alarming or unsettling shows or movies, like horror movies, may keep you awake.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
  • Use low lighting in the evenings and as you prepare for bed.
  • Exercise at regular times each day, but not within three hours of your bedtime.
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime—they can keep you awake.
  • Stay away from caffeine late in the day. Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) can keep you awake.
  • Remember—alcohol won’t help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.

If you feel tired and unable to do your activities for more than two or three weeks, you may have a sleep problem. Talk with your doctor about changes you can make to get a better night’s sleep.

Sources: The National Sleep Foundation and the National Institute on Aging