Sleep Hygiene

By Zach Pigg, PT, DPT

In today’s busy world it may be difficult to find time to fit in healthy habits, such as eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly. Sleep is another health habit that often falls low on the list of priorities. However, not getting enough sleep will affect your overall health in many ways.

Lack of sleep has been shown to be related to the following:

  • Decreased alertness
  • Decreased attention
  • Memory issues
  • Increased stress
  • Decreased energy

Furthermore, research has shown that lack of sleep can affect our overall physical health. If you are not sleeping long enough, or your quality of sleep is poor, you are increasing your risk of getting sick. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

The National Sleep Foundation gives us recommendations for how long we should be sleeping according to our age:

  • Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
  • Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
  • Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
  • Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
  • School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
  • Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours

However, sleep duration is not the only piece to the puzzle. We also need to be focusing on the overall quality of our sleep. Interrupted sleep may never allow our bodies to get the benefits from the natural cycles of sleep, leaving us tired and unrefreshed when we wake. The National Sleep Foundation also has the following tips to improve sleep hygiene:

  • Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes
  • Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime
  • Exercising to promote good quality sleep
  • Staying away from rich or heavy foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks right before bedtime
  • Limit screen time at night
  • Create a regular bedtime routine
  • Sleep in a cool, dark environment