Your Results: You get an "A" for effort, but you’re still not sleep savvy.
You probably wake up feeling rested on most days of the week, but there are also a number of mornings when you wake up feeling like you ran a marathon in your sleep. If you’ve had difficulty drifting off into the Land of Nod lately, there could be a number of factors at fault. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to every aspect of your health and happiness, so here’s what you need to know:
- Kids and the elderly need more sleep, but the average adult body needs seven to eight hours of sleep to fully recover and renew itself. Too little sleep leaves you exhausted while too much can make you groggy and sluggish.
- Your body runs on an internal clock called the circadian clock, an internal biological rhythm that runs on a 24-hour cycle and craves repetition. Give yourself a mandatory bedtime and your body will happily be set to a consistent rhythm.
- Getting to bed at the same time every night is just half of the equation – you also need to wake up at the same hour on a regular basis, whether it’s the weekend or not. Get on a regular sleep-wake schedule and you’ll increase your energy levels, be more alert and sleep better.
- If you regularly wake up in the middle of the night with a full bladder, don’t drink anything right before bedtime and make sure you use the bathroom one last time before you hit the hay. If you toss and turn a lot, take a closer look at your sleeping environment.
- If you sleep poorly because you snore, it’s important that you try different snoring remedies, whether it be using extra pillows, wearing Breath-Right strips or talking to your doctor about a possible sleep disorder. A bad snoring problem may actually mask sleep apnea, a potentially fatal disorder in which you stop breathing for short periods during the night.
- Televisions do not belong in the bedroom. If you have late-night TV shows to watch, invest in a DVR or TiVo so you can record your shows and watch them later. Don’t watch TV in bed – read yourself to sleep or take a hot bath if you need help drifting off to sleep.
- If you’re overweight, you’re at an increased risk for developing sleep apnea, a condition which is characterized by having difficulty sleeping through the night and waking up feeling tired. Recent studies also suggest that lack of sleep may cause obesity. Maintain a healthy weight and you’ll sleep better.
- Falling asleep at the wheel causes thousands of accidents every year. If you are feeling sleepy while driving, the only worthwhile remedy is to pull over at a safe place and take a nap. Drinking coffee, turning up the radio, blasting the air conditioner, or taking a walk will only provide a temporary fix.
- If you don’t wake up right away or if you end up hitting the snooze button more than once, you’re not getting restful sleep. Swap your annoying alarm clock for a clock radio that can wake you up gently with music, and only set it for the time you actually want to get up.
- Sleeping for varying amounts of time each night and sleeping in on the weekends disrupts your circadian clock and will make you feel even more tired. If you know you’ll have to skimp on sleep one night, just get back on your regular sleep schedule the next night.