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5 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Habits— And Why It Matters

Do you have healthy sleep habits? When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?

How often would you say you get a good night’s sleep? According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million American adults have a sleep disorder. Let that sink in.

Also:

  • 30% of adults experience short term insomnia
  • 10% of adults have chronic insomnia
  • 25 million adults have sleep apnea
  • 37% of adults 20-39 claim they do not sleep enough
  • 35.3% of adults report less than 7 hours of sleep a night

You can see what a prevalent problem it is. Why is that such a bad thing?

Effects of bad sleep

There are many different reasons why establishing healthy sleep habits should be a priority. Poor sleep can have the following effects on your body:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Higher risk of respiratory disease
  • Issues with body weights and insulin levels
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Hormonal issues

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So, how much sleep is needed?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep needs can vary based on age, lifestyle, and health.  They say you must ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel good after 7 hours of sleep? Or do you feel better after 9 hours?
  • Do you have any underlying health issues? Are you at risk for any?
  • Are you have noticeable sleep issues?
  • Do you rely on caffeine to function?
  • Does driving make you sleepy?

Healthy Sleep Habits

These are the latest recommendations for sleep length according to this same article.

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours per day
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours per day
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours per day
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours per day
  • School age children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours per day
  • Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours per day
  • Younger adults (18-25 years): 7-9 hours per day
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours per day
  • Older adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours per day

Are you getting the correct amount? If so, how do you feel the next day?  Do you feel well-rested?

If you feel like better sleep is needed, here are 5 things I recommend doing to wake up feeling more rested.

Stick to a schedule.

This is really important, even on the weekends.  Over time, your body gets used to a particular thing.  If you make it a priority to sleep from 10-6 every night, that will eventually feel normal.  It might be outside of your comfort zone, but it is a really useful habit to create.  Take it one day at a time.  Every night, stay up 10 minutes later.  Or, if you need more sleep, go to bed 10 minutes earlier.  No need to dive head first into it.  Take it slowly, and give your body time to adjust.

Exercise daily.

While this can be a hard habit to form, it is one that will reap numerous benefits.  You will start to feel better overall, and you will find that you sleep better at night.  Why? According to the New York Times, “For them, exercise and sleep seem to have a relatively uncomplicated relationship. You work out, fatigue your body and mind, and sleep more soundly that night.” The more tired you can make your body during the day, the better your should sleep at night.

Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption.

These substances can be very disruptive for healthy sleep.  Caffeine especially can cause your body and mind to stay alert, making it difficult to fall asleep.  If you know you want to hit the sheets at a certain time, make it a goal to stop drinking alcohol and caffeine at least a few hours prior.  This gives it some chance to work its way out of your system, so that you can sleep better.

Don’t hit snooze.

More and more studies are emerging about the negative effects of being a chronic “snooze hitter.”  When you hit snooze and go back to sleep for that several minutes, you signal to your brain that you are entering a new sleep cycle.  A sleep cycle ought to last for around a couple hours.  That is why this practice is so disruptive.  If you brain thinks you are going to be sleeping for another 90 minutes or so and it only sleeps for 10 more minutes, it leaves you feeling not rested and groggy. Try to plug in your phone for the night across the room.  That will give you more incentive to get up and turn it off for good, rather than hit snooze.

Unplug earlier at night before bed.

This is something that has really helped me a lot.  I plug in my phone and make it a priority not to scroll Instagram or Facebook for at least an hour before I want to fall asleep. A lot of mindless scrolling at bed time keeps your mind alert.  This is especially true if there are a lot of negative or triggering posts on your news feed.  It makes you brain spin when it should be settling in for a restful night of sleep.

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Now that you have read my tips for building healthy sleep habits, which ones are you going to try first? Pick one, give it a try, and let me know how it went in the comments!

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16 thoughts on “5 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Habits— And Why It Matters

  1. I do all of these, and I still feel like I could probably get more sleep. I’m also a very light sleeper, so even though I may be in bed for 7 or 7.5 hours, I am definitely not getting quality restful sleep that whole time. I don’t have insomnia, though, it’s more that I can be awakened very easily. Maybe it’s just mom instincts?

  2. Great tips! I’m definitely someone who needs more like 8-9 hours of sleep. 7 hours just doesn’t cut it for me! I do sometimes go through periods when I have a hard time falling asleep for several nights in a row. I’ve noticed this often coincides with periods when I’ve been relatively inactive during the day. So I think exercise really is an important factor in getting a good sleep.

  3. I wake up throughout the night according to my fitbit so sleep is elusive to me. I have tried different methods along the way. I have a sound machine also and have tried sleeping music. I’m still looking for something to work for me.

  4. I need these tips in my life! I have terrible sleep habits 😫. I’m definitely going to try and unplug earlier. I should probably curb my caffeine intake too, but let’s face it, that’s not going to happen. I live for coffee.

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