How much sleep do I need?I am not a good sleeper, and never have been, so image how happy I was to read more about how my lack of sleep is unhealthy? There are some good tips in this article produced by Healthfinder.gov.

A good night’s sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy. Everyone needs to sleep, but how much sleep do you need? Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you are having trouble sleeping, make changes to your routine to get the sleep you need.

-Kids need even more sleep than adults.
-Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep each night.
-School-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep each night.
-Preschoolers sleep between 11 and 12 hours a day.
-Newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.

Why is getting enough sleep important? Getting a good night’s sleep can have many benefits.
-You will be less likely to get sick.
-You will be more likely to stay at a healthy weight.
-You can lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
-You can boost your brainpower and your mood.
-You can think more clearly and do better in school and at work.
-You can make better decisions and avoid injuries. For example, sleepy drivers cause thousands of car crashes every year.

Does it matter when I sleep?
Yes. We have a natural cycle for when we feel tired and awake. Sunlight plays a big role in this cycle.

Our “biological clocks” are set to make us feel the most sleepy between midnight and 7 a.m. Our biological clocks also help us stay alert during the day, although many people have a sleepy period between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Our natural sleep cycle is very hard to break or change. When people have to work during the night, they can have trouble getting enough sleep during the day. People who travel to a different time zone can also have trouble sleeping.

Why can’t I fall asleep? Many things can make it harder for you to sleep, including:
-Stress
-Pain
-Some medicines
-Caffeine (in chocolate, drinks like coffee, and in some medicines)
-Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or insomnia

If you are having trouble sleeping, make changes to your routine to get the sleep you need. For example, try to:
-Follow a regular sleep schedule
-Stay away from caffeine in the afternoon
-Take a hot bath before bed to relax

How can I tell if I have a sleep disorder? Signs of a sleep disorder can include:
-Difficulty falling asleep
-Trouble staying asleep
-Sleepiness that makes it difficult to do daily tasks like driving a car
-Frequent loud snoring, pauses in breathing, or gasping while sleeping
-Pain or itchy feelings in your arms or legs that happen more often at night

If you have any of these signs, talk to a doctor or nurse. You may need to be tested or treated for a sleep disorder.

Small changes to your daily routine can help you get the sleep you need.
-Change what you do during the day.
-Exercise earlier in the day, not right before you go to bed.
-Stay away from drinks and foods with caffeine (like coffee, tea, soda, or chocolate) late in the day.
-If you have trouble sleeping at night, limit daytime naps to less than 1 hour.
-If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink a day for women or no more than 2 drinks a day for men. Alcohol can keep you from sleeping soundly.
-Don’t eat a big meal close to bedtime.
-Quit smoking. (The nicotine in cigarettes can make it harder for you to sleep.)

Set a bedtime routine.
-Go to bed at the same time every night.
-Get the same amount of sleep each night.
-Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.
-Avoid eating, talking on the phone, or watching TV in bed.
-Try not to lie in bed worrying about things.

If you are still awake after staying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up. Do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

If you are concerned about your sleep, see a doctor.
-Talk with a doctor or nurse if you have any of the following signs of a sleep disorder:
-Frequent, loud snoring
-Pauses in breathing during sleep
-Trouble waking up in the morning
-Pain or itchy feelings in your arms or legs that may happen more often at night
-Trouble staying awake during the day

Even if you aren’t aware of problems like these, talk with a doctor if you feel like you often have trouble sleeping.

Keep a sleep diary for a week and share it with your doctor. A doctor can suggest different sleep routines or medicines to treat sleep disorders. Talk with a doctor before trying over-the-counter sleep medicine.

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