Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency Healthy Sleep Habits
You can take steps to improve your sleep habits. First, make sure that you give yourself enough time to sleep. With enough sleep each night, you may find that you're happier and more productive during the day.
Sleep is often the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules. Making time to sleep will help you protect your health and well-being now and in the future.
To improve your sleep habits, it also may help to:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don't use the child's bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock's sleep-wake rhythm.
- Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid intense exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it's time to be awake.
- Avoid heavy or large meals within a few hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
- Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last up to 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
- Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
- Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.
Napping during the day may boost your alertness and performance. However, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, limit naps or take them earlier in the afternoon. Adults should nap for no more than 20 minutes.
Napping in preschool-age children is normal and promotes healthy growth and development.
Strategies for shift workers
Some people have schedules that conflict with their internal body clocks. For example, shift workers may have trouble getting enough sleep. This can affect how they feel mentally and physically.
If you're a shift worker, you may find it helpful to:
- Take naps and raise the amount of time available for sleep
- Keep the lights bright at work
- Limit shift changes so your body clock can adjust
- Limit caffeine use to the first part of your shift
- Remove sound and light distractions in your bedroom during daytime sleep (for example, use light-blocking curtains)
If you're still not able to fall asleep during the day or have problems adapting to a shift-work schedule, talk with your doctor about other options to help you sleep.