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SLEEP!! Foundation to all Health

DID YOU KNOW? When your body and mind are well-rested, you'll be able to respond to life with greater perspective and understanding.

What is healthy sleep?

On average, adults should optimally receive between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but those needs vary individually. For example, some people feel best with eight consecutive hours of sleep, while others do well with six to seven hours at night and daytime napping.

Some people feel okay when their sleep schedule changes, while others feel very affected by a new schedule or even one night of insufficient sleep.

Women struggling to sleep

Here are some statements about your sleep. If these apply to you, it’s a good sign that your sleep is on track. If you’re a shift worker and you don’t agree with many of these, it could mean that you need to make changes in your behaviors and routines to improve your sleep.

  • You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.
  • You regularly sleep a total of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour period.
  • While in your bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
  • You wake up feeling refreshed, as if you’ve “filled the tank.”
  • You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).
  • Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.

Women using mobile

Try these tips for getting better sleep and creating the foundation for your overall wellness.

Set a sleep goal. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep a night so that you have the energy to tackle everyday demands. Waking up refreshed will help you make smart decisions and stick to your diet and exercise plan. Sleep can help boost your motivation and willpower, making it easier to fend off temptations.

Establish a regular bedtime and honor it. The first step to behavior change is making a commitment toward what you want to accomplish and sticking to your plan. Establish a regular bedtime and stick to it as much as possible. That might mean putting your smartphone in another room so that you aren't tempted to scroll through your social media feed right before bed or setting an alarm to remind you that it's time to start getting ready for bed.

Eat healthier foods. When your body and mind are fatigued, you may misread hunger cues. The next time you find yourself wandering into the kitchen or mindlessly snacking at your computer, ask yourself if you may be tired rather than hungry. It's common to mistake fatigue or emotions for hunger.

Ease into sleep. Setting aside a little time before bed for relaxation can help you transition into sleep. Try deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, gentle stretching or guided imagery to help focus your attention away from worries and into the present. If your busy mind keeps you awake, jot down your thoughts in a journal or on a pad of paper by your bed.

Man Resting with dog

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep need by people at different ages, our new chart, which features minimum and maximum ranges for health as well as “recommended” windows, identifies the "rule-of-thumb" amounts experts agree upon.

Nevertheless, it's important to pay attention to your own individual needs by assessing how you feel on different amounts of sleep.

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy while driving?

These are questions that must be asked before you can find the number that works for you.