Are you getting enough sleep? There is no specific standard for the ideal number of hours a person should sleep. It depends on the age, activity level and health of each person.
Most adults need about eight hours of sleep. But some are content with less than seven hours and remain fully functional. Others need a minimum of nine hours to function properly. However, according to sleep specialists, people who sleep only six hours and who do not show symptoms of drowsiness during the day are extremely rare.
How do you know if you’ve slept enough? According to specialists, getting enough sleep simply means being able to function until the end of the day, without feeling drowsy.
You can assess your level of daytime sleepiness using a standardized test, the Epworth test. It has only eight questions and is completed in a minute.
Sleep experts agree on a dozen ways to facilitate both falling asleep and the quality of sleep.
- A bedroom dedicated exclusively to sleep and intimacy. No TV or computer. The bedroom should be quiet, dark and soothing. The temperature should be around 18° C. Do not hesitate to sleep with the window open. If there is too much noise in the room, you can install a fan. Its background noise will mask other noises. The bed should be comfortable and offer good support. These bed sheets that kill bacteria are especially good.
- Routine and regularity. Wait until you are sleepy. If you are not tired, do a relaxing activity while waiting for sleep to win you over. Try to get up at around the same time each morning, even on holidays. This helps regulate the biological clock and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Have a bedtime ritual. Before going to bed, you can read something light, listen to music, meditate, do a visualization, write your diary, take a bath, etc. It is important that, as much as possible, you have the same routine night after night. Avoid bright light. Try to fix your problems or temporarily put them aside before going to bed. Now is not the time to worry. Anxiety is one of the biggest causes of insomnia.
- Physical exercise. Exercise, if done regularly, helps you fall asleep and makes you sleep more deeply. However, you should avoid exercising two to three hours before bedtime, otherwise, you may interfere with sleep. Having sex is, however, an exercise that can be done just before falling asleep. It stimulates the production of endorphins, hormones that promote relaxation and well-being.
- Do not to go to bed hungry. A light snack can help sleep, but don’t eat a large meal just before bedtime. Supper should be finished two to three hours, if not more, before going to bed. Avoid drinking too much before bed so that you don’t wake up to go to the bathroom.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine. To sleep well, it is better to limit the nicotine, which is a stimulant, especially near bedtime. The same goes for caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, colas). This is all the more important in the evening, as caffeine stays in the body on average three to five hours. But some people feel the effects for up to 12 hours.
- Alcohol: a harmful sleeping pill. Even if it can make falling asleep easier, alcohol reduces the quality of sleep. It disrupts sleep cycles and often accentuates snoring and sleep apnea problems. The result is a less restful and less regenerating night.
- Naps. Not all specialists agree on naps. Some claim that they interfere with normal sleep. Others say that they can be considered as a beneficial supplement. But most agree on the following points. People with insomnia should not take a nap. The ideal time to take a nap is between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. This is when we feel a certain drowsiness caused naturally by our biological clock. Finally, the nap should not last more than 30 minutes. One study concluded that the optimal duration of naps was 10 minutes.
- If you can’t fall asleep after about 30 minutes, get out of bed and do a restful activity under a soft light: reading, knitting, listening to soft music, etc. Go back to bed when you are tired. If you wake up at night, avoid constantly checking the time on the alarm clock. Watching time again can increase stress. However, if you feel like you have been awake for more than 30 minutes, get up and do the routine described above.
- Sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can help occasionally, especially in cases of insomnia caused by acute and transient stress or jet lag, for example. But they should only be used as a last resort and always for a short time, a few weeks at most. They lose their effectiveness in the long run and the dose cannot be increased indefinitely. In addition, the sleep they induce is not as good as natural sleep.
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