We all struggle to get just the right amount of sleep each night. How you feel during the day is related to the sleep you got the night before, and we’ve all been there – half-slumped-over at our desks the morning after a rough night of tossing and turning.
But what you might not realize is how sleep can impact your overall health – not just the number of cups of coffee you need the next day. Want to lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress levels? Studies suggest all you need is a 45-minute nap.
Dr. Wayne H. Giles from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says “sufficient sleep is not a luxury—it is a necessity—and should be thought of as a vital sign of good health.”
Insufficient sleep can be led to a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.
So how much sleep do you need?
- Infants (birth – 2 months): 12-18 hours
- Babies (3 – 11 months): 14-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
- Children (3-5 years): 11-13 hours
- Children (5-10 years): 10-11 hours
- Adolescents (10-17 years): 8.5-9.5 hours
- Adults (18+): 7-9 hours
Looking at these figures, most of us know we’re not getting quite the recommended amount of shut-eye. The good news is that supplementing your sleep schedule with a nap can help – both to reach your recommended number of hours and to lower blood pressure and stress.
No time for a nap? Experts suggest establishing and sticking to a routine can improve the quality of your sleep, so you can get the most out of those few hours you do have.
- Go to bed at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning
- Sleep in a quiet, dark, warm and relaxing environment
- Make your bed comfortable and used only for sleep
- Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom
- Avoid physical activity and meals the last two hours before bedtime
Think of it almost like your exercise routine – you have to cool down before you go to bed.
If sleeping problems continue, you might want to talk to your doctor. He or she might send you to the FMH Sleep Disorder Center for a sleep study to determine the source of your less-than-sound sleep.