March is Sleep Awareness Month
Why is sleep health important?
Sleep is a basic requirement for human development, health and well-being, just like nutrition and physical activity. After all, on average, we spend a third of our life sleeping! Research shows that not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and depression. It can lead to motor vehicle crashes and mistakes at work, which cause injury and disability. Sleep is vital for quality of life, affecting our physical health, mental health and safety.
What is the recommended amount of sleep per day?
It depends on age. About 1 in 3 adults — and even more adolescents — don’t get enough sleep. See the table below for recommended hours of sleep per day by age group.
While the amount of sleep you get per day is important, it’s also essential to get good quality sleep. Signs of poor sleep include not feeling rested even after enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night and experiencing sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. Learn more about sleep disorders here. If you’re experiencing sleep problems, talk to your healthcare provider.
Tips for Better Sleep:
- Build a sleep routine by learning to wake up and go to sleep at a consistent time even on the weekends.
- Set a bedtime and bedtime routine for children.
- Exercise during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
- Naps during the day may provide a boost in alertness and performance. Adults should limit naps to 20 minutes.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment for your bedroom by making sure it is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature.
- Keep tech devices like computers, TVs and smartphones out of the bedroom.
- Avoid large or heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime. Light snacks are okay.
- Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes) and caffeine (e.g. caffeinated soda, coffee, tea and chocolate) before bedtime. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last up to 8 hours.
- Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.
Interested in sleep hygiene specifically for children?
Parents’ Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy and Resilient Children, presented in partnership with South Bay Mommies and Daddies, is a five-part video series designed for parents of children ages 0-6. Topics range from Mindful Parenting, Establishing Healthy Sleeping Habits, Early Childhood Nutrition and Creating Structure & Fostering Responsibility. Each session features subject-matter experts to approach each topic in an easy-to-digest manner for parents of young children. Watch the video here on “The Importance of Good Sleep Hygiene for Children.”