Have you ever wondered whether you need to get more sleep? Let’s see if any of these symptoms is familiar:
- Not feeling alert shortly after waking up
- Feeling groggy or foggy-headed throughout the day
- Slogging through the day with little to no energy
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Unable to stay awake later in the day
- Dreading going to bed
- Fighting the snooze alarm
- Feeling moody or anxious after waking up
- Falling asleep immediately at night
Did you know that sleep deprivation makes a driver 15 times more likely to be involved in a car accident? This rate is comparable to drunk driving!* The average recommended sleep for adults is seven to nine hours. But everybody is different, so if you wake up and feel fully rested after more or less sleep, then you’re probably getting the right amount. (As we age, our sleeping habits change. After about age 65, many of us will naturally sleep less.)**
A good way to gauge whether you’re getting enough rest is to have someone watch you fall asleep. You should be asleep in 15-20 minutes after settling down. If you’re knocked out within seconds of your head hitting the pillow, you might not be getting enough sleep.
If you’re not sleeping enough, try moving up your bedtime by 15 minutes. On the other hand, if you’re sleeping too much, try going to bed 15 minutes later. Continue adjusting your timing in 15-minute increments until you’re dialed in.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up after a full-night’s rest, it’s probably time to take a look at ways to help improve your sleep. Many advances have been made in the field of sleep science, also called “sleep hygiene.” Here are seven ways to help improve your snoozing habits:
- Don’t skimp on sheets. New fabric technologies have produced sheets made with bamboo, eucalyptus, and Tencel to wick moisture from the body and keep you cool at night.
- Invest in your mattress. Since you sleep about 1/3 of your day, and the way you sleep sets the tone for your entire day, you deserve an excellent mattress. Most bedding stores have diagnostic equipment to help you determine your most comfortable sleeping position. Then you can select a mattress with the proper firmness to keep your neck and spine aligned. Some newer mattresses and pillows are topped with a layer of cooling gel. If you or your partner snores, consider getting an adjustable bed that raises the head of the mattress (or place risers under the frame legs).
- Establish a consistent sleep prep routine. Use a sleep journal (there’s an app for that) to discover the best time to stop drinking or eating before bedtime. Be sure to put away those electronic devices at least two hours before going to sleep. Avoid alcoholic beverages, smoking, and vaping late at night.
- Use your bedroom for sleeping. Don’t work or watch TV in the bedroom. Declutter the room and don’t use it as a spare storage space. (How many baskets of clothes are stacked against the walls?)
- Set the mood. Adjust the temperature, lighting, and sound levels to meet your needs. A cool, dark, quiet room lends itself to a good night’s rest. If you and your sleeping partner have different sleeping preferences, though, try using blackout drapes, eye masks, ear plugs, portable fans, and sound machines to accommodate both of you.
- Check your position. To avoid waking up with a backache or crick in your neck, use knee and body pillows to support yourself and maintain that spinal alignment.
- Soothe your spirit. Check into comfortable pajamas (made with moisture-wicking fabrics), eucalyptus or lavender pillow sprays, and calming bath/shower gels. Most important—and this is a big one—don’t charge electronic devices in the bedroom. Most cell phones have a “do not disturb” feature; set it for your bedtime hours.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re pregnant or ill, throw the sleep timing guidelines out the window and sleep as much as you need. And any time you have a non-emergency condition such as backache, headache, flu, or upper respiratory infection, you have 24/7 access to Teladoc’s board-certified doctors anywhere you are. Use the handy app to request a visit, see the doctor, and keep track of your medications and your eligible dependents’ medications, primary care physicians, preferred pharmacy, and other important medical information.
Lullaby and good night!
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