Young adults and adults (ages 18-64) need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Previous reports have included maximum amounts of sleep (usually 9 hours); however, there has been some debate about what is considered “too much” sleep. More so, sleep duration should be individualized for each person. If you have had at least 7 hours a sleep during the week, and you chose to not wake up with an alarm, how many hours would you sleep? If you wake up feeling well-rested, that is generally how many hours of sleep you need (just make sure you are not sleep deprived before trying this). Beyond sleep duration, there is sleep quality which is a person’s perception of their sleep. If you wake and feel that you are not well rested or you find yourself becoming sleepy during the middle of the day, then there is concern that you are not getting enough sleep or you are having sleep disturbances (e.g., sleep disorder breathing (snoring, sleep apnea), frequent night awakenings) that are impacting your sleep.
So, what are some ways that you can monitor and improve your sleep duration?
- Keep a sleep journal where you write down what time you go to bed and what time you wake up. You should include, if possible, how long it takes you to fall asleep. This is very noticeable if it takes you more than an hour. Also, note whether you have a dry mouth or other physical concerns after waking. A dry mouth could be a sign of snoring during the night. Also, include if you consumed caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks) or exercised and what time? Also, describe your sleeping environment (bed, couch, lights, television, street noise, etc.?).
- Establish a consistent bedtime, if possible. If you work split shifts or irregular work weeks, develop a bedtime for each change.
- Try to start your bedtime routine 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
- Limit or do not use technology during this time.
- Dim the lights in your room.
- Check your planner to know what you need for the next day. This can help you prepare for the next day so you can sleep as long as you need. It also can help eliminate anxieties about the next day.
- Journal to clear your mind of any churning thoughts.
- Create a cool and comfortable sleeping environment.
I plan to discuss more about sleep hygiene in a future blog, which will cover caffeine consumption and exercise.
This blog post is meant to be brief. I plan to blog about different aspects of sleep each week. Please leave any comments or ask any questions. Also, leave suggestions for future Sleep Tip Saturdays.