We've all heard it before - sleep is important, and you probably aren't getting enough of it. But did you know that too much sleep can be just as harmful? The Mayo Clinic recommends the ideal sleep range at 7-9 hours per night for adults. According to the National Sleep Foundation, here are some tips to create your ideal night's sleep.
Perform a Sleep Test
Start in the middle of the range with eight hours and count backwards from when you want to wake up in the morning. For example, if you want to wake at 7 a.m., go to bed at 11 p.m.. If your alarm wakes you up, go to bed 15 minutes earlier the next night. Take 7-10 days to tinker with the timing until you start to wake up shortly before your alarm. After a while you might be able to ditch the alarm.
Use a Sleep Tracker
Most smart watches have a sleep tracking function. It might be hard to get used to sleeping while wearing a watch, but it can provide information for how long it takes for you to fall asleep, track your sleep cycles, and report how often you wake up during the night. Knowing these facts can help you refine your sleep plan.
Avoid Screens Before Bed
Your brain is trained to equate light with being awake. In the hour or so before you want to be asleep, try to avoid bright lighting and electronic screens. Scrolling through your smartphone or tablet can increase the time it takes you to fall asleep.
Create your Ideal Sleep Environment
There are many aspects to your sleep environment you can adjust to increase your quality of sleep including lighting, temperature, white noise and bedding. Experiment with different options to see if they improve your sleep quality.
Know when to get Help
While these ideas may help you optimize your sleep, you should seek professional help if your sleep cycle is creating problems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you should seek medical attention if you are experiencing severe daytime fatigue, you have high blood pressure, you are waking up several times per night or you are dependent on medication to help you sleep.
Even if you come up with the perfect plan, life happens and there will be times when you get less sleep. Just ask a friend with a new baby or when you are sick with a cold! But it's still good to have a plan for when life goes back to normal. Understanding your body's sleep requirements and making a few adjustments will help you develop a plan and maintain a healthy balance.