This week (March 2nd-9th) is Sleep Awareness Week: A public education and awareness campaign backed by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep is vital to every human life—especially active parents and teens. Although there is no “magic number” of sleeping hours, everybody needs sleep in order to concentrate, be efficient, and excel in school, sports or work. Teenagers need about 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night, while adults need approximately 7-9 hours. When is the last time you got the full amount of sleep you need? Chances are, it’s been a long time since you’ve felt completely rested.
In the spirit of Sleep Awareness Week, here are some tips to induce healthy, deep sleep, brought to you by the National Sleep Foundation.
Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
This helps regulate your body’s clock and can help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Chances are, if you wake up at noon on a Sunday, you're going to have a hard time waking up at 6 a.m. on Monday.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
A relaxing activity every night before bed helps your brain relax. Stressful or exciting activities make it more difficult to fall asleep. Try reading or writing before bed with a very dim light.
Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
Although it may be tempting to nap after school or work for an hour or two, this could seriously affect your sleeping patterns at night. If you feel tired during the day, eat a healthy snack and drink water. Avoid caffeine late in the day, even if it makes you more awake.
Any type of exercise, from light to vigorous, improves sleep quality. If you're time-crunched and must choose between sleep and exercise—always choose sleep.
Evaluate your room.
Be sure to keep the temperature low—between 60 and 67 degrees—in your bedroom. Also, avoid light and noise when trying to fall asleep. Blackout curtains, eye shades, or white noise (a fan, for example) can all help with sleep.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Make sure your mattress is comfortable and is no older than 10 years. If you have back problems, aim for a firm mattress.
Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms.
Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning to keep your circadian rhythms in check.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and heavy meals in the evening.
Drugs and large or spicy meals can disrupt sleep. Try to finish eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Wind down without electronics.
The light emitted from electronic devices, such as a phone or a laptop, causes increased brain activity and can make it hard to fall asleep. Although it's enticing to watch a movie in bed, try to avoid electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
If you can’t sleep, go into another room.
Only associate your bed with sleep. If you use your bed for many other purposes, like working, talking on the phone, eating, and watching TV, this will lower the association between bed and sleep. If you need to do something to make you tired, leave your bed, and only return when you’re tired, relaxed, and ready for sleep.
Be inspired by Sleep Awareness Week and go to bed early tonight!
Think you know how sleep works?
Take the Sleep IQ Test! (I got a 50%)
How sleepy are you?
Take the Sleepiness Test! (I got "sleepy")