Waking in the morning feeling refreshed, renewed and invigorated is a good indicator of having had enough good quality sleep. For some people, however, adequate sleep is selSleep is an important part of good health for all ages of persons. It is both restorative and protective. Individuals who do not have adequate sleep are more likely to experience attention and memory difficulties, daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, and are at higher risk of falling or having a traffic accident.
Inadequate sleep is associated with medical conditions, including heart and lung diseases, high blood pressure, depression, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Not getting enough sleep can lower metabolic function, compromise immunity, be associated with cancer, increase sensitivity to pain and increase mortality.
Nonstop lifestyles, stress, lack of understanding about the health benefits of adequate sleep, and the presence of sleep-related problems are just a few of the reasons children and adults may fail to get adequate sleep.
Healthy adults, when given unlimited opportunity to sleep, will sleep on average between eight and eight and one-half hours. But normal sleep needs range from seven to nine hours.
Health or lifestyle issues aside, there are things one can do to get a better night's sleep:
Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Sleeping late on weekends won't fully make up for the lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to awaken on Monday morning.
Exercise, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but not later than 5 or 6 hours before bedtime.
Don't take naps after 3 p.m. Naps do not substitute for a good night's sleep, but they can be restorative and help when one does not get enough sleep at night. Limit naps to one hour. Longer naps will make it harder to wake up and get back in the swing of things. Someone who takes frequent naps during the day might have a sleep disorder.
Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath contributes to feeling sleepy. Also, the bath can help a person relax, slow down and become more ready to sleep.
Have a good sleeping environment. Eliminate noise, light or anything that might distract from sleep. Keep the room cool and have a comfortable mattress and pillow. A television or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction, so move them to another room.
Don't lie in bed awake. If still awake after lying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and do some relaxing activity until sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to go to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.
Relax. De-stress the mind and body by visualizing details of a relaxing scenario, or progressively tighten and relax your muscles from head to toe. Mentally "park" your worries outside the sleeping environment. Make lists of tasks to be done the next day before going to bed to lessen the fear of forgetting something important.
See a doctor if sleep problems persist. A person who is consistently tired or not well rested during the day, despite spending enough time in bed at night, might have a sleep disorder.
For more information, pick up the publication on sleep available from the Bourbon County Extension office, first floor of the courthouse or go to www.oznet.ksu.edu