Sleep for health

How many hours of sleep do you need?

Is getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night enough? It's a question that's worth learning about — nearly 35 percent of adults get less than the recommended 7+ hours per night. And there are many facts that support increasing that number.

Sleep affects every aspect of your waking life. It is essential to your overall well-being. Seek help if you're not getting a good night's rest.

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Poor quality and insufficient sleep has short-term and long-term consequences

  • In the short-term, poor sleep may result in loss of attention span, poor decision-making, fatigue and irritability
  • The long-term implications, which are more compelling, include an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, and depression1

Why get 7-9 hours of sleep each night?

  • It helps maintain brain function
  • It helps reduce your risk for disease
  • It helps improve daytime performance and safety
  • It helps improve your emotional health

Tips to sleep better

A list of "to-do's" that may help you snooze
  1. Power down to recharge
Blue light from screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm and affect your ability to sleep. Turn off your mobile devices at least 30 minutes before you head to bed.
  1. Keep a regular pattern of bedtime and waking
Try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (yes, even on the weekends).
  1. Make your bedroom all about sleep 
A comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding will help you get a good night’s sleep. Keep your room dark, cool and quiet (you may consider using “white noise” to mask startling sounds). 
  1. Say “no” to that late-day “cup of joe”
Because it is a stimulant, caffeine may disrupt sleep. Avoid caffeine after lunch. Also, avoid alcohol before bed. Even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night. 
  1. Still awake?
If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, get up and go into another room and do something relaxing, such as reading or listening to soft music until you feel tired.

Questions you may want to ask your doctor about sleep problems

Here are a few sample questions you might ask your doctor if you're concerned about sleep.2

  • Would it be helpful for me to keep a sleep diary? If so, what should I keep track of?
  • Are there lifestyle changes I could make that might help me sleep better?
  • What are the potential benefits and risks of prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids?
  • Do you think a sleep study — testing in a sleep lab — would be beneficial for me?