During sleep our brains clear out waste toxic chemicals, consolidate memories, process emotional events and much more.
No one needs reminding of the importance of sleep, but many can do with a few tips to actually achieve it.
Here are a few recommendations by the National Institute of Health (with a few thrown in from me):
- Go to bed at the same time.
- Use the hour before bedtime as quiet time.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
- Take a hot bath before bedtime (or any other relaxing ritual that works for you).
- Do some exercise during the day — any physical activity is preferable to none.
- Your sleep schedule should be the same at the weekend as it is during the week.
- Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark.
- Avoid large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.
- Get outside every day.
- Avoid staring at your phone, tablet or computer screen in the hour before bedtime.
Dr Jeffrey P. Barasch, Medical Director of The Valley Hospital Center for Sleep Medicine in Ridgewood, NJ, said:
“Unfortunately, as you well know, sometimes life can prevent us from going to bed when we want to and many of us have experienced the frustration of not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep once we are in bed.
Luckily, our bodies can adjust to occasional instances when we do not get enough sleep.”
Depending on our phase of life, we require different amounts of sleep:
- Newborns — 16 to 18 hours a day
- Preschool-aged children — 11 to 12 hours a day
- School-aged children — at least 10 hours a day
- Teens — 9 to 10 hours a day
- Adults (age 20-64) — 7 to 9 hours a day
- Elderly (age 65 and over) — 7 to 8 hours a day
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