(BPT) - Summer is an active time when schools let out for vacation, travel and social plans heat up, and daily routines can be quick to change — all of which can disrupt consistent sleep practices and start patterns, challenging healthy sleep. How do you enjoy the long days of summer while still protecting your sleep?
How much sleep do you really need?
While the exact amount of sleep needed to feel rested and alert is different for everyone, experts from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommend the following sleep duration ranges, by age:
If you or your family members aren’t getting enough quality sleep, you may experience fatigue/sleepiness, lack of energy, mood swings, irritability and difficulty focusing.
The good news is, you can take some small steps today to help you get the sleep you need. The NSF has tips to help you be your “Best Slept Self™”, the renewed ‘you’ after taking small steps each day and night that make a big difference in your sleep health. Check out the tips below:
1. Get a healthy amount of light exposure
Bright light during the day and dimmer light at night helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, the natural sleep/wake process behind healthy sleep. Spend time in bright light during the day (natural light or an equivalent brightness), especially in the morning when possible. Take advantage of earlier sunrises and warmer temperatures to spend more time outside overall.
2. Exercise regularly for a deeper sleep
Physical activity is effective at increasing your drive to sleep at night, as well as reducing stress and improving your mood. Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 6 Americans report doing no moderate activity, such as brisk walking, and almost half (45%) did no vigorous activity, such as jogging. To help you get a better sleep at night, aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week.
3. Eat meals at consistent times
Regular meals can also help you maintain a healthier sleep/wake cycle, but 4 in 10 Americans eat meals at irregular times. The whole family should avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bedtime, and adults should also avoid nicotine and alcohol before going to sleep.
4. Avoid heavy meals, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
The whole family should avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bedtime. Adults should also avoid nicotine and alcohol before going to sleep.
5. Use a consistent wind-down routine in the evening so you can get the sleep you need.
Try different things to discover what works best for you, such as taking a warm shower or bath, having a cup of noncaffeinated tea, listening to soft music or reading a book.
6. Make a sleep-friendly environment.
Using electronic devices close to bedtime can keep your mind active when it should be winding down. Turn them off an hour before going to sleep and keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet and ready for sleep.
Enjoy the long days of summer and still practice good sleep habits! Visit TheNSF.org for more tips and information about how to be your Best Slept Self this summer — and all year long.