Adults should sleep seven to nine hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health according to recently developed recommendations from The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society.
“More than a third of the population is not getting enough sleep, so the focus needs to be on achieving the recommended minimum hours of nightly sleep,” said Nathaniel Watson, incoming president of AASM in a news release.
If you are having trouble getting in seven hours of good sleep most nights, Dr. Wayne Rubinstein, a sleep medicine specialist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill offers these recommendations for improving sleep:
- Stick to a schedule that allows time to relax before bed.
- Put away your cell phone, tablet or computer when you go to bed.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and large meals within a few hours of bedtime.
- Exercise in the earlier part of the day.
- Use an app or fitness monitor to help track progress.
If these behavior modifications do not help improve sleep quality, Dr. Rubinstein suggests keeping a sleep log for a couple of weeks. In the morning, write down your bedtime, approximately how long it took to fall asleep, how long you spent awake in bed, and what time you got out of bed in the morning. Sleep logs provide two key benefits, it will help further your goal of developing a consistent sleep schedule and provide additional insight into how large (or small) your sleep challenges are.
Talk to your primary care physician, and consider seeing a sleep doctor if you are still unable to achieve the sleep you need.
A common misconception is that everyone who sees a sleep doctor needs a sleep study. Dr. Rubinstein points out, “Most patients with insomnia or insufficient sleep do not have to undergo a sleep study. These problems are usually related to specific behaviors and perceptions that respond to cognitive behavioral therapy – using medications can actually make the problem worse.”