Source: American Cancer Society
Are you getting enough sleep at night? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 70 million Americans have sleep problems that keep them awake when they want to sleep, and lead to drowsiness when they want to be alert.
The NIH says adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to be well-rested, but that most people get less than that. They recommend these tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
- Go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning.
- Avoid naps after 3 p.m.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
- Avoid nicotine completely.
- Get regular exercise, but not within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day, but a light snack before bedtime is OK.
- Make your bedroom comfortable, dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold.
- Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep (for example, reading or listening to music).
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something calming until you feel sleepy, like reading or listening to soft music.
- See a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.
Teens and Sleep
Sleep problems are a special concern for teenagers. The average teen needs about 9 hours of sleep a night, but most don’t get it. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), lack of sleep is linked to depressive mood symptoms in teens. It can also hurt academic performance in the classroom and physical performance in sports.
A sleepy teenager behind the wheel of a car is an especially dangerous combination. The NSF says drowsy drivers cause more than 100,000 crashes each year.
In addition to the sleep tips for adults, teens can also try:
- Avoiding screen time at least an hour before bed
- Banning all-nighters (Don’t leave homework for the last minute!)
- Writing in a diary or on a to-do list just before sleep, to reduce stress
- Sleeping no more than 2 hours later on weekend mornings than on weekday mornings. Sleeping in longer than that will disrupt a teen’s body clock and make it even harder to wake up on time Monday morning.