Do you remember that time last week when you got eight hours of sleep, and you felt so awesome? Or was that last month? Or last year? In … 2002?
You’re not alone.
According to Gallup, more than 40% of Americans are getting less than seven hours of sleep. Most shocking is the results of Gallup’s 1942 poll that showed 45% of Americans getting eight hours or more, compared to 29% today. That makes for some sleepy, crabby people – one out of four sleep deprived Americans explains a lot.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), adults in general should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night for optimal health. And according to recent research, the average woman needs 20 more minutes of sleep than men! Yes! Even better, the research points to women’s propensity to multi-task and use more of their actual brain than men leading to a greater need for sleep.
While women need more sleep than men, many are not getting the proper amount. You probably don’t need us to run down the list … most of us have been there or know someone who has. Those pesky dream busters include excess weight and position of fetus during pregnancy and hot flashes during menopause. (From the “been there, done that” consensus, try a body pillow for pregnant sleeping and a small table fan on the night stand to alleviate the midnight sweating.)
“Sleep Awareness Week” is March 11 – 17. Pull up a pillow and set your phone sleep app on “ocean surf” while you peruse these tips from the NSF that go beyond counting sheep and a warm glass of milk.
- Consider “bedtime” a meeting and be on time! Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping in that pod may be all the rage, but it may well be hampering sleep in the long run.
- Regular exercise of some form is a key to good sleep.
- Your surroundings should be peaceful, dark, quiet and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees). Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Get comfy cozy. If your mattress is over nine years old, you probably need a new one. Pillows should be changed out every couple of years at least. If you have allergies, make sure your bedroom is free from those substances.
If these non-medical approaches don’t relieve your sleep-deprived state, check in with your physician who may recommend further medical testing including a sleep study. There are medical conditions like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (RLS) that require medical intervention to ensure a good night’s sleep.