Why You Need More Sleep—And How to Get It
When you think about sleep deprivation, what comes to mind? Pulling all-nighters
in college? Parents with a new baby? It might surprise you to learn that
a third of Americans are getting insufficient sleep every night. On the
other hand, if you’ve ever battled insomnia, suffered sleep apnea
or simply felt too busy/stressed to go to bed on time, it may not surprise
you at all. Modern lifestyles—non-stop schedules, digital distractions—can
make it very difficult to get adequate rest.
You may function on insufficient sleep for a while, but late nights will
eventually catch up to you. Think of it this way: sleep is the foundation
of good health. If your foundation is crumbling or shaky, everything else
is at risk. According to the CDC, people experiencing chronic sleep insufficiency
are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension,
diabetes, depression and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality
and reduced productivity.
Sleep also affects your daily life: how clearly you think, how well you
remember and how equipped you are to fight off sickness. Sleep is designed
to restore and repair your body; many critical functions depend on sleep
to perform, including immunity, cognition, weight control, hormone balance
and memory. If sleep has been last on your priority list, it’s time
to move it to the top. Your health depends on it! The following tips may
help you sleep more and better, but if you are struggling to get adequate rest,
talk to your doctor.
Reduce your commitments.
On the whole, Americans are over-scheduled, over-committed and, consequently,
over-tired. Evaluate your family’s weekly routine: what is absolutely
essential? Does your child really need to play two sports at the same
time? Do you really have to volunteer for another committee? Reduce your
stresses and responsibilities so you’ll have more time at home to
relax, go to bed on time and get enough sleep (adults need 7–8 hours
Create an environment that invites sleep.
It will be easier to fall asleep and sleep deeply if you feel comfortable
in your environment. A few simple changes can make a big difference in
the quality of your sleep! Start with a quick clutter pick-up—piles
of clothes and papers can add to your stress. Use soft, low lighting as
night approaches. Lower the thermostat slightly—many people sleep
better in a cool room. Burn a lavender candle or diffuse calming lavender
oils to help you relax.
Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
Thanks to smartphones, it’s harder than ever to ‘unplug’
before bedtime. But, your body (and your mind!) need the break. For the
best sleep, establish a simple, calming, electronic-free routine you can
follow every night. Building a consistent “bedtime” pattern
signals to your brain that it’s time for sleep. Everyone’s
routine is different, but a good routine should include adequate time
to wind down, familiar sensory cues and analog activities. Turn the TV
off and set your phone aside. Try starting with a cup of chamomile tea
or a warm, relaxing bath. You might want to read a book (no work!) for
a bit before turning out the lights. Whatever you choose, be sure to do