How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Man sleeping on laptop

Are you getting enough sleep? Probably not.

Studies have consistently shown that 40 percent of Americans are getting less sleep than they need —at about  six hours per night.

So how much sleep do you actually need? While numbers vary by individual, sleep experts have put together some averages based on age that may give you some guidance. The suggested sleep times for adults? About 7-9 hours.

Why Getting Enough Sleep Is Important

Getting enough sleep has been associated with a wide variety of health benefits. From alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety, to lowering your chance of getting diabetes and heart disease. Getting enough sleep is beneficial in all areas of your life.

Think you don’t have enough time for more sleep? Follow these tips to maximize your ZZZs.

Set a Strict Sleep Schedule

You should be going to sleep (and waking up) at the same time each day. Weekdays, weekends, holidays – doesn’t matter. I know you lust after those extra hours on a Saturday morning, but you may find with the better overall sleep schedule, you don’t need them.

Create a Nighttime Routine

Parents around the world are nodding their heads in agreement – humans are creatures of habit. Parenting experts advise parents to set a bedtime routine with their children to get the child’s mind and body ready for sleep. Somehow we as adults believe that is only applicable to children, but the truth is we are wired the same way.

Create the Right Atmosphere

Your sleep area should be conducive to sleeping. Make your bed comfortable, relaxing, and inviting. Leave the work outside of the bedroom. Consider making your bedroom an electronics free zone. Yes, that means no TV too.

Watch What You Eat

In addition to avoiding caffeine and other agents that might keep you awake – consider how much you eat as well. If you go to bed hungry or over-full your discomfort will overshadow your sleep efforts. If you often feel full at bedtime, consider eating an hour earlier and going on a nice walk to help digestion. If you have the opposite problem, consider a protein-rich bedtime snack to quell your hunger.

Free Your Mind

I’m not usually one to quote pop singles, but En Vogue said it best “free your mind, and the rest will follow.” If you spend your nights worrying about what needs to be done or thinking about a new idea, figure out a way to put those thoughts to bed – so that they can stay out of yours. I always keep a journal next to my bed so that I can write out any ideas that come to me and clear my mind for rest.

Are you part of the 40% that don’t get enough sleep? What tips do you have for someone to sleep better?

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