Sleep is vital to your health and well-being. Few things feel better than waking up after a full eight hours of shut-eye. However, in such a hectic culture, getting enough healthy sleep can be challenging. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a sleep disorder or sleep problem like sleep apnea or insomnia.
Read on to learn about what’s necessary to create a healthy sleeping pattern, how to get more sound sleep, as well as the benefits and pitfalls of too little—and even too much—sleep.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
You’ve probably noticed the irritability that comes along with sleep deprivation, and there’s a reason for it. Essentially, a good night’s sleep allows your body and brain to “reset.” Sleep helps your body continue to do things like digest food, excrete the proper hormones, and more. It can help support your emotional and mental health.1
Yes, sleep is great for your physical health, too. One sleep study suggests that those with healthy sleep patterns tend to eat less calories. So, by sleeping well, you might not gain as much weight as someone who suffers from sleep loss.2
Here are some other ways healthy sleep is great for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Adequate amounts of sleep may support:
- A positive mood
- Concentration and productivity
- Healthy blood sugar levels
- Immune health3
How Much Sleep Should You Be Getting?
The appropriate amount of sleep varies by age group. Check out the table below to see how much sleep you should ideally be getting:
- Children 6-13: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers 14-17: 8-10 hours
- Young adults 18-25: 7-9 hours
- Adults 26-64: 7-9 hours
- Older adults 65+: 7-8 hours4
Of course, sometimes life happens, making it hard to get enough sleep each night. A daytime nap might come in handy to help get rid of that sleep debt. Try to shoot for the appropriate sleep amount, especially if it means hitting the hay a little earlier rather than hitting “play” on the current series you’re binging. Put that remote down and head to bed, so you can build better, healthy sleep habits and combat that daytime sleepiness.
Is There Such A Thing As Sleeping Too Much?
Unfortunately, there is such a thing as sleeping too much. When you sleep too much, it can cause your circadian rhythm (a.k.a. your internal clock) to be thrown off balance.5 Your body is on a natural clock; it’s why you go to sleep at night and wake up naturally in the morning. Just as with too little sleep, too much sleep can throw your body clock out of whack.6
For example, if you regularly sleep until noon, your body thinks it’s technically “morning.” This is why those who work night shifts at hospitals or warehouses have “flipped” circadian rhythms. Too much sleep also causes the same effects as too little sleep (i.e. potential weight gain, poor mood, etc.), so ensuring you’re getting the proper amount is essential.
While it’s okay to sleep in every now and then, getting more than the allotted nine hours of sleep could lead to problems.
Here’s What A Healthy Bedtime Routine Looks Like
So, how can you ensure you’re implementing a healthy sleep routine? You create a bedtime routine for better sleep. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to finding the nighttime routine that works best for your sleep needs, so you can get restful sleep. Start implementing any number of these tips for a good night’s sleep and get the adequate sleep you deserve.
Set A Bedtime Alarm
You set an alarm for getting up in the morning, why not when it’s time to go to bed? Setting an alarm can help you begin to prepare your mind for a good night’s rest by starting to unplug and unwind. This may also help you stick to a good sleep schedule by following the same sleep and wake times.
It’s been discussed that poor sleeping habits can contribute to weight gain, but the same goes for when you’re awake. Sleep is vital to your body’s metabolism and ability to digest food. So, while it may be tempting to head to the kitchen for a late-night snack before bed, resist the urge. Or, at least, make sure it’s a healthy snack that promotes sleep – like nut butter or tryptophan-heavy foods and not, say, caffeine.7
Create A Pre-Bedtime Playlist
As with your bedtime alarm, a bedtime playlist is another great tool to help you unwind. Whether you decide to stock yours with soothing nature sounds or mellow tunes, make sure it’s something that gets you in a sleepy time mood.8
Turn Off All Electronics
Once your pre-bedtime playlist has finished, it’s time to ditch the electronics. Experts say that all electronics (think: phones, tablets, e-readers, etc.) should be turned off at least 30 minutes before it’s time to hit the hay.9
As it turns out, blue light emitted from electronic devices may actually “trick” your brain into thinking it’s much earlier, causing you to lie awake much longer than you’d like. Plus, less electronics means a deeper REM sleep. Many devices nowadays have blue light reduction settings, and it may not be a bad idea to turn these on come night time.10
Add Mood Lighting
Bedtime ambiance is all the rage. Creating a space that’s all your own can further help your brain unwind at the end of the day. Try hanging some fairy lights in order to give your bedroom a more soothing, relaxing atmosphere.
Say “Goodnight” With A Good Book
Now that you’ve got your bedtime playlist and mood lighting going, all that’s left is to settle in with a good book. Not only is helpful when it comes to unwinding at night and getting some quiet time, reading before bed may boost your brainpower, as it’s a neurologically challenging process for your mind.11
Maintain A Balanced Diet And Exercise Routine
As with all things, a proper diet and exercise regimen is essential in creating a well-balanced life. Not only could a balanced diet help stave off potential weight gain when combined with good sleep habits, it’s just downright good for you and your sleep health (a.k.a. sleep hygiene). The same is true for physical activity: it helps you feel great, and, most importantly, can help you feel tired quicker, as your muscles need to rest.12
Once you’ve got your bedtime routine nailed down, follow it up with a strong meal prep and exercise plan for maximum health benefits. You’ll be feeling great in no time.
At The End Of The Day, It’s Time To Prioritize Sleep
While it’s clear that any amount of sleep is better than none, it’s time to start prioritizing healthy sleep habits to help you feel like the best version of yourself. Follow these guidelines for a healthy sleep pattern, and watch your mental health and mood transform. You may find you feel more energetic, productive, and even more enthusiastic about exercise.
Healthy sleep begins with a healthy routine. Find what works best for you and your body, and try and stick to it. So, sweet dreams—your body will thank you for the quality sleep.
Tips For Living A Healthy Balanced Life
Benefits Of Power Naps (Plus The Dos And Don’ts You Should Know)
Walking 10,000 Steps A Day Benefits Over A Sedentary Life