March 2-8 is National Sleep Awareness Week!
Students: are you taking catnaps between classes in your car or in the library (you know who you are)? Staff and faculty: are you getting drowsy during your 10am meeting? I know I’m guilty. This month, let’s all focus on getting some much needed sleep.
The National Institutes of Health has helpful guidelines on how much sleep we should all be getting, how to get your sleep cycle back on track, and how to tune in to your body’s clues for more sleep (hint: falling asleep at the wheel):
- 50-70 million Americans are affected by sleep-related problems
- The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders can lead to hypertension, diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart attack, and depression
- Adults (even medical students) need 7-8 hours of sleep every day
- Napping does not provide all of the benefits of night-time sleep – you cannot make up for lost sleep
- You might be sleep deficient if you feel like you might doze off while studying or watching TV, sitting in traffic for a few minutes, or sitting quietly after lunch
Here are some helpful strategies for getting more sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends, or try to limit the different to no more than an hour to avoid disrupting your body’s sleep-wake rhythm
- Limit alcoholic drinks and caffeine before bed – the effects of caffeine can last 8 hours!
- Be physically active every day, especially outside
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark to promote sleep
- Avoid artificial light from TVs, laptop screens, phones, or tablets before bed – the light can signal your brain to stay awake
- Try some relaxation techniques like meditation, or take a hot bath, before you go to bed
Check out Your Guide to Healthy Sleep from the National Institutes of Health.