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Healthy Sleep Habits to Improve Health

Did you sleep well last night? Or did you toss and turn? Cultivate these 4 sleep habits to sleep better.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one third of adults in the U.S. report that they routinely get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep is hard to come by for both children and adults.  Receiving inadequate amounts of sleep can affect children’s and adult’s health and behavior. As a basic need for all humans, sleep is the body’s way of restoring itself. Research has shown that it is essential for development in each stage of life. Therefore, we all need it! There are many health and behavioral benefits, as well as consequences, when it comes to sleep.

Not getting enough sleep interferes with our daily lives and routines. Most people can tell when children especially are tired – they tend to have more melt-downs! Lack of sleep can cause a person to lose concentration, develop mood and behavior problems, and decrease performance and productivity levels. In fact, I know one person who was told, “Don’t try to cook anything after 7:00 p.m.!” She usually got tired by then and some disaster usually happened. A person that has not acquired an adequate amount of sleep is at risk for symptoms of impairment (like falling asleep while driving!). Research indicates that poor sleep habits are tied to higher rates of obesity, which in turn is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.  Better sleep habits can help address these serious and chronic health issues.

The amount of rest we need each night differs among each age group:

  • Teens (ages 12-18) require 8 to 9 hours per day
  • Adults (ages 18-65) require 7 to 9 hours per day
  • Older Adults (ages 65 and up) require 7 to 8 hours per day

There are many benefits to getting proper amounts of sleep including improved quality of performance, reduction of stress levels, and improved memory/brain function.  There are physical and mental benefits to sleeping at least 7 hours every day and in the end, an overall improvement in health and well-being.

 So, how can you get more sleep?

There are plenty of methods to help us get the proper rest we need, and here are a few to help you get started:

  • Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. If you set up a consistent sleep schedule, you will create better habits. This will allow you to be in better moods throughout the day. You may not need those three cups of coffee to get you through it, which means you’ll have more energy. Sorry, this also includes weekends.
  • Log your sleep hours. This may be the best way to evaluate your needs. If you notice you still are not functioning the greatest and meeting your sleep needs, you may want to consider this method. Record not only your nighttime regimen, but also the naps you take throughout the day. You may even use a smart watch to log your sleep hours.
  • Limit the number of naps you take. Sleep deprivation is most commonly the reason why most of us feel as though we need a midday nap or a nap after a long day of work. The message here is not to completely stop taking naps.  Naps can be beneficial if done within reasonable quantities and if they are necessary due to sleep deprivation. For example, if you missed an hour of sleep the night before, a one-hour nap may be what you need.  However, be careful to stay away from habitual napping and naps longer than an hour because these habits can negatively affect your nighttime sleep patterns.
  • Create a better sleep environment. Make sure to limit screen time before going to bed. Limit television viewing and cell phone usage before going to bed. Dim the lights and keep the room you plan to sleep in cool.

Continue to strive toward developing better sleep habits, even if it means you make just one change at a time such as setting an earlier bedtime. With effort, you can increase the quantity and quality of your sleep. Who doesn’t love good night’s sleep? Remember, getting a minimum amount of 7 hours of sleep will benefit you in many ways.


Michigan State University Extension

Students from Dr. Denise Fisher's Family Life Education class at Harding University will be guest writers this spring.  This week's post was written by Matilyn Thomas.  Matilyn is from the Dallas area and will be graduating from Harding this May in Family & Consumer Sciences - Family Life Education.  In her spare time, Matilyn is a Bison cheerleader and she sings with Harding’s Black Student Association Choir.