Good Night, Sleep Tight!

A cup of coffee.Are you among the millions of Americans suffering from lack of sleep? If so, droopy eyelids, wide yawns, and low energy are the least of your worries. Sleep disruption — not sleeping enough or sleeping poorly — can affect your memory, disease resistance, and leave you struggling to stay alert in school, on the job, and on the road.

Studies show that people who get the appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis also tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who sleep too few or even too many hours each night. So, what is a good night’s sleep?

According to the National Institutes of Health, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. School-aged children and teens need at least nine hours of sleep each night.

Tips to help you sleep

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Get up about the same time each day, no matter how many hours of sleep you got the previous night.
  • Maintain healthy sleep habits. Go to bed only when you’re sleepy. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and relaxing — not too hot or too cold. Don’t text, e-mail, read, or watch TV in bed.
  • Make sure your mattress is comfortable. Remember, even a good quality mattress needs to be replaced within 10 years.
  • Exercise is great, but not too late. Avoid exercising within a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks after lunch. The stimulating effects of caffeine in coffee, colas, teas, and chocolate can take as long as eight hours to wear off.
  • Avoid large meals at night. A large meal can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks before bedtime.While a nightcap may help you relax, alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep and tends to wake you during the night.

And, for adolescents and young adults:

  • Avoid stimulating activities around bedtime. This includes intense studying, text messaging, video games, and lengthy phone conversations.
  • Avoid pulling “all nighters” during exams.
  • Sleep in on weekends — but not more than two to three hours past your normal wake time. Sleeping longer may disrupt your body clock. .

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