Getting Your Zzzzzzs
Did you know that you sleep needs change throughout your life?
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends newborns get 16 to 18 hours of sleep a day. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours; school age children require at least 10 hours daily; teens should have 9 to 10 hours a day; and adults, including the elderly, need 7 to 8 hours a day.
Many people routinely lose sleep or choose to sleep less than needed, but the sleep loss, or your sleep debt adds up each day, and that can affect your health. Although naps provide some relief you really can’t make up for sleep debt.
Keep a sleep diary for a couple of weeks. List how much you sleep each night, how alert and rested you feel in the morning, and how sleepy you feel during the day. Bring the diary to your healthcare provider and find out how you can improve your sleep.
Who is at risk for sleep deficiency?
People of all ages, races, and ethnicities are at risk for sleep deficiency or deprivation, but the following groups may be more at risk:
- Caregivers, people working long hours, people working more than one job.
- People whose job schedules conflict with their internal body clocks. These include shift workers, first responders, teens who have early school schedules, or people who must travel for work.
- People who use medications to stay awake, abuse alcohol or drugs, and those who do not leave enough time for sleep.
- People who have undiagnosed or untreated medical problems, such as stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders.
- People who have medical conditions or take medicines that interfere with sleep.
Heart failure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, mini-stroke, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have been linked to sleep disorders. If you have or have had one of these conditions, ask your doctor whether you might benefit from a sleep study. If your child is overweight, speak with you doctor about your child’s sleep habits.
A sleep study enables your doctor to measure how much and how well you sleep. It will also help to reveal if you have sleep problems and how severe they are.
To improve your sleep habits:
- Make sure you allow enough time for sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Set a bedtime and a bedtime routine for your children. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
- Weeknights and weekends: Keep the same sleep schedule, with no more than an hour difference. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
- Spend quiet time an hour before bed.
- Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
- Don’t consume heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. Avoid alcohol beverages before bed. You can enjoy a light snack.
- Stay away from the following stimulants: nicotine, cigarettes, caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Caffeine’s effects can last for as long as 8 hours. Even having a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
- Get outdoors on a daily basis if possible.
- Be physically active.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
- Take a hot bath, or use relaxation techniques before bed.
- Limit naps or take them earlier in the afternoon. Adults should nap for no more than 20 minutes
- Let preschool-aged children nap. It is normal and promotes healthy growth and development.
For more information about healthy sleep habits, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s “Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.”
- Posted by admin
- On February 7, 2017