Sleep and restfulness are hot topics in today’s busy world of work, family and endless electronic stimulation. It seems people are being told they need more sleep right at a time when life is actually getting busier. So, how much sleep to people actually need, and what can be done to improve sleep habits?
Here’s what the latest scientific research has to say about the matter.
“Ideal” Sleep Time
It’s easy to get caught up wondering exactly how many hours of nightly sleep are optimal. As it turns out, research suggests it varies from person to person based on age, lifestyle and health conditions. However, most adults between ages 18 and 65 should strive for seven to nine hours nightly.
Individuals may vary within that range, and everyone is “wired” differently. People should get to know their own bodies and realistically assess what works for them. Too little sleep and a person may feel groggy. Too much sleep and a person may feel groggy! Folks who exercise regularly and enjoy active lifestyles may warrant more sleep for physical recovery.
Sleep and Personal Habits
The importance of good “sleep hygiene” cannot be overstated. While nobody wants to lecture others on their lifestyle and habits, the truth is both play critical roles in good sleep. Over indulgence in substances like caffeine and alcohol negatively affect restfulness. Likewise, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles hurt sleep quality.
Generally speaking, people should strive for some form of daily exercise in order to ensure a restful night’s sleep. They should also limit caffeine consumption, especially in late afternoon and evening hours. Finally, folks who don’t rely on an evening “nightcap” will find that sleep not induced by alcohol is actually more restful.
Electronic Stimulation and Other Distractions
People have always faced distractions that hurt sleep quality, ranging from children to snoring spouses and general stress. However, today’s “connected” world presents a whole new host of sleep impediments. Now, people must also contend with late-night phone calls, text messages, email alerts and other electronic stimulation.
Generally speaking, folks who learn to “check-out” for the evening will benefit from better sleep. It’s really that simple. People should learn to put their phones on “quiet” function or even turn them off altogether. Televisions should not be left on over night, lights should be dimmed and everyone should avoid falling asleep on the couch.
At the end of the day, most nurses and healthcare professionals have very busy schedules. From children to work, days are very stressful and time seems limited. However, successful folks learn to prioritize a good night’s sleep. Ultimately, those who are well-rested perform better in their jobs and in life!