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How to get enough sleep

Good health and well-being are dependent on sleep. You can protect your mental, physical, and emotional health by getting enough sleep at the right time.

Your physical health is dependent on your sleep. Sleep is important for the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. An increase in the risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and high blood pressure is associated with a lack of sleep.

Healthy growth and development can also be supported by sleep. Deep sleep triggers the release of the hormone that promotes normal development in children and teenagers. This hormone can also increase muscle mass and repair damaged cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.

You can function well all day if you get enough quality sleep at the correct times. People who lack sleep are less productive at school and work. They are slower to complete tasks, take longer to react, and make more errors.

Over the course of your lifetime, your sleep needs will change. The chart below provides general guidelines for different age groups.

Recommendations for Sleep

  • Newborns: 16-18 Hours a Day
  • Preschool children: 11-12 hours per day
  • Children in school: Minimum 10 hours per day
  • Teens: 9-10 Hours a Day
  • Adults (including the elderly), 7-8 hours per day

A lack of sleep can make you feel tired throughout the day. It can cause you to feel tired and irritable when you get up in the morning. A sleep deficiency can also affect your ability to work, study, drive, and socially function.

What are the signs and symptoms of problem sleepiness?

You can determine if you are experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation by how sleepy you feel throughout the day. If you feel like you can’t sleep, you might be sleeping deficient.

  • Sitting down and reading or watching TV
  • Sitting still in public places such as a meeting room, movie theater, or classroom
  • Ride in a car for one hour, without having to stop.
  • Talking to someone while you sit down
  • After lunch, sit quietly
  • For a few moments, you can sit in traffic

A lack of sleep can lead to problems in learning, focusing, or reacting. It can cause problems with making decisions, remembering, managing emotions, coping with change, and solving problems. You might take longer to complete tasks, make more errors, and have a slower response time.

Some thoughts on getting enough sleep

People often make sleep the most important thing in their busy schedules. You can protect your health and well-being now and in the long term by making time for sleep.

It may also help you to improve your sleeping habits.

  • Every day, go to bed at the same time and get up at the exact same time each morning. Children should have a regular bedtime and routine. Do not use the bedroom of your child for punishment or timeouts.
  • On weekends and weeknights, try to maintain the same sleeping schedule. The difference should not exceed an hour. You can disrupt your body’s sleep-wake rhythm by staying up late or sleeping in on weekends.
  • For quiet time, use the hour before bed. Avoid strenuous exercise, bright artificial light (e.g. from a computer or TV), and avoid excessive exercise. The brain may be signaled by the light that it is time to get up.
  • Avoid eating large or heavy meals within two hours of bedtime. A light snack is acceptable. Avoid alcohol before going to bed.
  • Avoid smoking and caffeine, such as cigarettes and caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can cause sleep problems. Caffeine can cause insomnia for up to 8 hours. A cup of coffee in the afternoon can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • Get outside as much as possible and get active.
  • If you have to, keep your bedroom cool and dark. A dimmable nightlight is okay.
  • Before you go to bed, take a warm bath or relax with relaxation techniques.

Get this free Health Sleep Guide from NIH

Download the guide by clicking here