Many of us lead very busy lives so it is important for us to get a good amount of quality rest every night. Sleep allows our bodies to recuperate and recover from our day. When we deprive ourselves of quality sleep, it inhibits our bodies to be at maximum efficiency the next day. Many of us are unable to either get the proper amount of rest, find it hard to get to sleep or find it difficult to stay asleep. Getting quality sleep is vital to our well-being for various reasons but many of us do not take the time to make quality sleep a priority in our daily routines.
In the article, Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (n.d.), it lists several reasons why getting good, quality sleep and getting enough sleep is vital to our health.
Benefits for getting enough quality sleep:
- Promotes energy throughout the day
- Helps elevate a healthy mind and memory
- Reduces the number of times you get sick and the duration of time you are sick
- Lowers the risk for serious health issues
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Aids in physical and mental recovery
These are but a few benefits for why getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep are important, but sometimes we do not know the right amount of sleep we should be getting. From infancy to adulthood, our bodies undergo various changes and types of development, so we require different amounts of sleep at different ages. Typically, the younger we are, the more sleep we need for our growing bodies. Of course, you have to take other factors into consideration like one’s daily physical activity, health factors, etc., but the following list from Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (n.d.), is a general guideline of the amount of sleep we need at different ages.
How much sleep is enough?
- Infants aged 4-12 months 12-16 hours a day (including naps)
- Children aged 1-2 years 11-14 hours a day (including naps)
- Children aged 3-5 years 10-13 hours a day (including naps)
- Children aged 6-12 years 9-12 hours a day
- Teens aged 13-18 years 8-10 hours a day
- Adults aged 18 years or older 7–8 hours a day
Unfortunately, many of us do not get this amount of sleep and if we do, it is not quality sleep. I know for me, I sometimes have trouble going to sleep, staying asleep or both and I wake up tired as if I didn’t just get any sleep. Fortunately, there are some tips and techniques we can use in order to wind down for bed so we get the right amount of quality sleep. Here are but a few tips that we should try to incorporate into our bedtime routine:
Tips for getting enough sleep:
- Have a Sleep Schedule. Wake up and go to bed around the same time every day (weekdays AND weekends). Limit the time difference to no more than an hour.
- For kids, have a set Bedtime and Routine. Do not use their bedroom for timeouts or punishments because they may not be able to mentally block that out at night and be fully comfortable in their room.
- Avoid Eating, Reading, or using your Phone (talking or texting) in bed. This will train your brain that your bed is only for sleeping and intimacy, so it will not be wide awake when you are in bed.
- During the day, spend time outside and try to be more physically active. When your body works hard and gets sunlight and fresh air, it will need to recover and will likely be more prepared to rest at night.
- Keep your room cool, dark and quiet. When we get hot, we typically do not sleep well. Having your room dark and quiet invites peace and allows your mind to wind down. Getting light-reducing or blackout curtains will help your room stay dark.
- Wind down an hour before bed. Avoid artificial light (phone, TV or computer) and strenuous activity as these things may wake your brain up.
- Take a hot bath/shower and use relaxation techniques. Easing your body with a hot bath/shower will help your body and mind relax. Breathing techniques or meditation allows for our body and mind to relax as well by relieving tension and the weight of day’s activities.
- Avoid heavy and/or large meals, drinking caffeine and alcohol, and having nicotine. When you are full, your body has to work to digest that food and therefore cannot fully rest. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and alcohol will not allow your body to rest.
They say, “work hard, play hard”, but we should start focusing on “work hard, sleep hard” and create an effective sleep routine that we stick to every night. Because many of us are always on the go every day, we owe it to ourselves to get the right amount of good, quality sleep every night. Start off with a few adjustments from these tips and gradually incorporate more of these tips until you are getting the optimal amount of quality sleep. Remember that you work hard, so allow your body to recovery by getting the best rest it can have!
Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2019, fromhttps://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
Written by Yvonne Sims