Andrea Drever
By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director


If You Feel You Don't Get Enough Sleep, You're Not Alone.

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect energy levels, judgment, mood, the ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. And studies show that in the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.

So, how much sleep do you actually need? And how do you get it?

Though it certainly varies per person, the National Sleep Foundation says that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. And people over 65 should get 7 to 8 hours per night. For some of us, getting this much sleep is easier said than done. Here are some tips for getting more of it.

 

1. Exercise

Exercising boosts the effect of our natural sleep hormones, such as melatonin. Just be cognizant of the timing of your workouts. Exercising too close to bedtime can keep you up. A morning workout is ideal, because exposing yourself to bright daylight first thing in the morning will help your natural circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).

2. Watch What You Eat and Drink

Avoid eating a big meal within two to three hours of bedtime. You’ll also want to stay away from wine and chocolate near bedtime. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. And while people think wine makes them sleepy, it can act as a stimulant and disrupt sleep during the night.

3. Get Comfortable

Make sure your bedroom is as comfy as possible. Ideally you want a quiet, dark, cool environment which can promote the onset of sleep.

4. Reserve Your Bed for Sleep and Sex

Don't respond to emails in bed. Avoid watching late-night TV there. The bed needs to be a stimulus for intimacy and sleeping, not stress or distractions.

5. Start a Sleep Ritual

In childhood, perhaps you were tucked in and read a story, and this comforting ritual helped lull you to sleep. Even in adulthood, bedtime rituals can have a similar effect. Drink a glass of warm milk. Take a bath. Or listen to calming music to unwind before bed.

6. De-stress

Daytime worries can bubble to the surface at night. Stress is a stimulus, activating our fight-or-flight hormones that work against sleep. So, give yourself time to wind down before bed. You might even try deep breathing exercises.

7. See a Doctor

An urge to move your legs, snoring, and a burning pain in your stomach, chest, or throat are symptoms of three common sleep disrupters—restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. If these symptoms are keeping you up at night or making you sleepy during the day, be sure to see your doctor for an evaluation.

Woman with her arms stretched behind her neck

Stretching After Sitting

Here are some smart moves that can be added at the office, the airport, and in line at the grocery store.

Read More
Man sitting on a rock, looking at his phone

Telehealth is Here to Stay

There are lots of reasons to avoid a doctor’s office. Even when the pandemic is behind us.

Read More
Man’s hand holding a U.S. passport

Making Sure Care is Covered if You Get Ill or Injured Abroad

Sick happens. So, what can you do to make sure you’ll be cared for, without going bankrupt, when you’re traveling abroad?

Read More
Airplane engine over snowy mountains from the air

Returning Safely to Air Travel

Here’s how to get back on board, while keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Read More
Man and woman walking together next to a hotel in the desert

Reduce Your Risks of Getting COVID

Some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and those you love from this virus.

Read More
Mountain range as seen from an airplane

How Clean is Airplane Air?

Turns out it’s cleaner than you probably thought. Here are some of the reasons why.

Read More
Woman getting a vaccine

After You've Been Vaccinated, Can You Ditch the Mask?

The time may be coming, but don’t toss those masks of yours just yet.

Read More
Woman sitting by a fountain looking at her phone

The Chat Care Craze

This new, easy way of getting medical care is allowing people to chat their way to better health.

Read More
vaccine with syringe and vial

Why Vaccine Side Effects are Actually a Good Thing

If you feel sick after your shot, don’t fret. It just means that the vaccine, and your body, are doing their jobs.

Read More