Sleep—it’s as vital to our health as a nutritious diet and regular exercise. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly one-third of American adults aren’t getting even the minimum amount of sleep they need to be alert the next day.
Most sleep experts recommend that adults obtain seven to nine hours of sleep each night, depending on their own individual need. Are you getting the ZZZs that you need? If not, try the following tips to help you perform your best every day.
- Keep a regular schedule. Even on the weekends, when there is temptation to sleep in, it’s important that you go to sleep each night and wake up each morning at nearly the same time.
- Avoid sleep-disturbing products such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Coffee, tea, or sodas may contain caffeine, which is a stimulant, and should be avoided at least six to eight hours before bedtime. Nicotine is also a stimulant—besides the risk for heart disease and cancer, smoking before bed makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Many people also think of alcohol as a sleep aid. While it may make you drowsy, it can actually cause nighttime awakenings and disrupt sleep.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment that includes a cool, quiet, and dark room where you will not be disturbed. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, earplugs or other devices to help block out light and noise.
If you continue to have sleep problems, start a sleep diary to note the symptoms you are experiencing and share that diary and other concerns you may have with your doctor. There may be an underlying medical cause of your sleep problem and you will want to be properly diagnosed.