Are You Getting a Healthy and Quality Sleep?
by Joel Topfit
Sleep is something we all need. It restores the body and brings us back to a condition where we can continue with our daily lives. It is physiological, but it is also emotional in nature.
When our bodies are rested we think more clearly.During sleep, the brain sorts through and assembles the experiences of the day. In this way memories are solidified and problems solved.
People who do not sleep well at night or who have trouble falling asleep are more prone to health issues. Many experts believe that disorders such as diabetes, anxiety, and depression are brought on by lack of restful sleep. The body just has a tougher time healing itself when it is tired. At the same time the emotional state of mind is affected as well.
So, what can you do to get more rest? The following should help, but if you do not get relief from sleepless nights, it is time to see your physician.
Ways To Get More Restful Sleep
Here are some ways to get more quality sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time EVERY night. This will establish a consistent sleeping and waking cycle.
- Create a climate in your bedroom that is conducive to sleep. That means don’t use the bedroom for anything else but sleep or other bedroom activities. Leave the computer in the office and the television in the family room. Meals should be taken in the kitchen or dining room and not in bed.
- With your doctor’s consent, don’t take prescribed stimulant medications at bedtime. Other stimulants like coffee and caffeinated teas and sodas should also be avoided for a few hours before going to bed.
- Get plenty of good exercise, but avoid doing anything strenuous just before bedtime. Quality exercise helps the mind and body get ready for quality sleep. Long walks are soothing to the body and help the muscles achieve a more relaxed state. Exercise also creates a healthier and more balanced body.
- Avoid eating for a couple of hours before time for bed. Foods can cause discomfort when your stomach is full and you’re lying down. This discomfort takes the form of heartburn and acid reflux in some people.
- Alcohol interferes with sleep and should be avoided prior to bedtime.
- The old saying that you should never go to bed angry must have been wrought from experience. Being upset at bedtime can pull the plug on any potential for sleep.
- Napping too long or at the wrong time during the day can also kill the chances for sleep. Naps should be limited to an hour or less unless you are ill and need the rest.
- Drinks, even water, should be avoided for the last few hours before sleep. Fluid intake too late in the evening can cause interruption of sleep for bathroom breaks.
Inability to fall asleep and stay asleep is not something that is relegated to older adults. As a matter of fact, age should not bring on sleepless nights. Young adults can be bothered by less than quality sleep just as older folks can.
As one gets older, it is possible for sleep to become lighter with increased awakenings during the night. This may be due to aches and pains that are typical with the aging process. This may be part of the reason we see more illness in this age group.
How Many Hours of Sleep?
Good question. The amount of sleep that you might need depends really on numerous factors. A key factor is your age. As a rule of thumb, consider the following guidelines (hours per day): Infants need 14-15 hours, toddlers need 12-14 hours, school-age children need 10-11 hours, and, finally, adults need between 7 and 9 hours.
Now, as said above there are other factors that have direct impact on the amount and quality of sleep you get. Among the most important, we have:
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy can increase the need of sleep
- Aging: As you get older, your sleeping pattern changes. The older you get the lighter of your sleep. This could explain why older adults tend to have day napping more often than other age groups.
- Previous sleep deprivation: As a general rule, if you are just coming out of this state, you will need more sleep.
- Sleep quality: If you have less interrupted sleeping hours, you will have higher quality of sleep.
In summary, if you experience daytime somnolence in spite of a good quality sleep, consult your doctor as there might be underlying causes that can eventually harm your health.
(Joel writes about the health benefits of practicing “exercise on elliptical” machines but his sleep patterns have been more continuous since he exercises regularly. Although he does not know yet whether his exercise routine impacts favorably on his sleep pattern or the other way around, what matters to him is that he is healthy and is eager to share his discoveries.)