It turns out that the recommended 8 hours of sleep we need is mostly true. People do vary a bit, but experts say the average adult performs best when getting between 7 and 9 hours per night.
When we lack the proper amount of sleep, a host of issues arise. Sleep deprivation causes problems with memory and concentration. Just a day or two of little or no sleep can cause physical problems, even hallucinations! Lack of sleep can have a cumulative effect on long-term health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Studies found that night shift workers’ risk for heart attack and stroke is 40% higher than average. It can also alter your metabolism. The brain usually sheds off certain toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s during sleep. Lack of sleep can cause these to rise.
So how do we get better rest and fall asleep easier? One of the essential aspects is to ensure your sleep environment is conducive to achieving a peaceful night of quality shut-eye. Make sure you have a good quality mattress and pillow. Keep out as much external noise as possible. Some machines and apps will play sounds like waves, rain, or music to create a peaceful environment if your neighborhood is too noisy.
Here are a few other tips for creating a proper sleeping environment. It’s a good idea to lower the temperature, 65 degrees is good, but no more than 70 degrees. Also, reduce your blue light exposure at least an hour before bed. So, in other words, turn off the devices!
Of course, you do need bright light during the day. Natural light is best, but artificial bright light bulbs can suffice. This light will increase daytime energy and improve sleep duration and quality.
Furthermore, don’t eat late at night and decrease alcohol use. Digestion can cause you to stay awake. Alcohol increases sleep apnea and snoring — also, no caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime and no liquids for 1 to 2 hours.
You can try supplements such as Melatonin, which is naturally produced in the body — taking 1-5 milligrams 30-60 minutes before bed works well for many people. Do try and go to bed at the same time every night, even weekends. Short naps during the day work well, but long ones, more than 30 minutes, can disrupt sleep. Try a warm bath or shower to relax before bed. Exercise is good but not too late in the evening.
So please don’t underestimate the importance of forming a routine when it comes to getting ready for a good night’s sleep. Remember doing that for your kids when they were little? It works wonders for adults too. Clear your mind, play some soft music while you brush your teeth, try some deep breathing while visualizing something or somewhere peaceful and quiet, and get ready to head off into the land of nod peacefully.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO