Column: Seven Facts About Sleep (that might help you catch seven hours of zzzs)

March 9, 2023

There are many benefits to a good night’s sleep, including feeling energized and ready for the day. A lack of sleep can cause health issues, including depression, forgetfulness and heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, getting good sleep is important for heart health. Most adults need seven or more hours of sleep a night to stay healthy and feel good.

Here are some tips from sleep experts at Emerson Health:

1. Keep a Bedtime Routine

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and on the cool side, and avoid electronic devices and large meals before bedtime.

2. Mind Your Medicines

Some commonly prescribed medications for heart, blood pressure, and asthma can disrupt sleep patterns. The same is true for certain over-the-counter and herbal remedies for coughs, colds, or allergies. If you have trouble sleeping, talk with your healthcare provider to see if your medicines affect your sleep.

3. Melatonin May Help

Research suggests melatonin supplements may be helpful for children and adults if they have trouble falling asleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone and generally considered safe for short-term use. Addiction is unlikely, however some regular users find it hard to break the habit.

Although you can get melatonin at pharmacies without a prescription, check with your healthcare provider before you take it or give it to children. Ask about possible benefits, risks, and side effects. Experts are unsure about melatonin’s long-term effects, so your provider may recommend using it only for short periods.

4. Allow Enough Time in Bed

Research shows that many people do not allow adequate time for sleep. This is particularly true for working adults and teenagers. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep, older teens need eight to 10 hours, and younger children need even more. A good way to tell your basic sleep needs is to think about how long you typically sleep during a relaxing vacation – when you do not have to set an alarm. Getting less sleep than is needed increases the chances of excessive fatigue or sleepiness.

5. Say “No” to Nightcaps

Too much alcohol before bed deprives you of deep sleep. Instead, take a hot bath, or drink warm, decaffeinated herbal tea.

6. Time Workouts Wisely

Brisk walking and other physical activities can improve the quality and length of your sleep at night. Early morning and afternoon workouts can aid sleep, while evening exercise can delay falling asleep for some people. Replace aerobic activities at night with simple stretches, meditation, or yoga to relax and prepare for bed.

7. The Last Word on Sleep

Tell your healthcare provider if you snore, feel tired after a full night’s sleep, or if your sleep problems interfere with how you feel during the day. Your provider may refer you for a sleep study at Emerson Health’s Sleep Center.

To learn about Emerson Health’s Sleep Center and sleep medicine doctors, visit: