Dreaming of Better Sleep? Eight Ways to Get Your Best Rest

Would you love to wake up each day feeling refreshed and ready to go? When you sleep well, you're more likely to achieve that dream. Getting enough quality sleep keeps your body and brain healthier as well.

In honor of Sleep Awareness Week, which begins March 14 (when many of us will lose an hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings Time), the experts at Aspirus Health would like to offer a few tips on how to get the sleep of your dreams.

Eight ways to improve your snooze

1. Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day, even on weekends.

2. Wind down in the evening. About an hour before bed, avoid bright lights and loud sounds, like your TV or computer.

3. Don't eat heavy meals within a couple hours of your bedtime. A light snack is OK.

4. Skip late-afternoon lattes (or any other caffeinated beverages). That caffeine buzz can linger up to eight hours.

5. Move it to snooze it. Getting regular exercise can help you sleep better - as long as you're not exercising too close to bedtime, which can have the opposite effect.

6. Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Some ideas: Take a warm bath, listen to soothing music or read a book.

7. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark (a dim nightlight is OK) and at a comfortable temperature (somewhat cool is best). If you need to get up briefly, avoid switching on a bright light, as your eyes will tell your internal body clock it’s daytime, which tells your brain to wake up.

8. Limit naps to 20 minutes.

Need more sleep? Put your rest to the test

You may be sleep deficient if you are notice any of these clues:

• You don't feel refreshed and alert in the morning after sleeping
• You often feel very tired
• You find it hard to focus or think clearly
• You take longer to get things done or make mistakes
• You fall asleep easily at times when you should be awake, such as while sitting and reading, watching TV, or sitting still in a movie theater or meeting
• You sleep more on your days off from work than you do otherwise

Good sleep is essential

Skimping on shuteye can harm your physical and mental wellbeing. For example, too little sleep may:

• Raise your risk for chronic health problems, like heart disease, diabetes, stroke and depression
• Raise your risk for obesity by upsetting the balance of hunger hormones in your body, which can cause you to overeat
• Put you or others in danger. Our reaction times are slower, and we're less alert when we're sleepy. As a result, driving a car or operating machinery when drowsy can result in deadly accidents.
• Mess with your moods, prompting angry outbursts or increasing your risk for mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression
• Weaken your immune system, making you more prone to colds and other common infections

Sleep by the numbers

24 - Your body clock, which regulates when you feel sleepy and awake, follows a 24-hour cycle
2 - There are 2 basic kinds of sleep. You experience REM sleep (when most dreaming occurs) and non-REM sleep in stages that repeat several times a night
40 - Nearly 40 percent of adults report that at least once a month, they fall asleep during the day without meaning to
100,000 - About 100,000 car crashes each year are caused in part by drowsy driving
35 - Up to 35 percent of adults have insomnia (a sometimes chronic condition)

How much sleep is enough?

Our sleep needs change with age, and can vary a little from person to person. But in general, here's what sleep experts recommend:

  • Infants: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
  • Children age 1 to 2: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
  • Children age 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • Children age 6 to 12: 9 to 12 hours
  • Teens age 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults: 7 to 8 hours

If you try everything and are still tired or having trouble sleeping, ask your health care provider if a sleep study is needed to determine whether you have a sleep disorder. Several Aspirus locations offer overnight sleep studies. To learn more, talk with your health care provider, call the Aspirus Customer Contact Center at 800-847-4707, or visit aspirus.org/sleep-medicine