For many, a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by. We toss and turn, count sheep, fall asleep in front of the TV, snooze our alarm clocks, and struggle to rise and shine when morning comes. Some may turn to white noise machines or even sleeping pills in the hopes of catching some sound shuteye. But often, in order to harness the restorative powers of a full night’s sleep, we have to rethink the daily habits that may be interfering with our nightly rhythms.
In this post, we’ll consider what might be robbing you of your hard-earned zzz’s and how you can get your body back on track. So settle in, dim the lights, and get ready to revolutionize your sleep routine.
How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?
The National Sleep Foundation lays out the following guidelines:
School-age children (age 6-13): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Adults (26-54): 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Note: sleep becomes more fragmented after age 60, so people may effectively sleep in two shifts. In that case, napping can be normal and healthy.
What Gets in the Way of Healthy Sleep Patterns?
There are a number of culprits that may be wreaking havoc on your nightly slumber. Here are some of the most common:
Light at night: Too much light in the evening can disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone primarily released by the pineal gland that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Increased nighttime light exposure has also been linked to health concerns including obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, and gastrointestinal ulcers. You can help program your body to produce melatonin for sleep at the right time of day by getting exposure to daylight during the morning and afternoon. Take a walk outside or sit beside a sunny window.