Getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night is essential for your good health, according to sleep experts.
Too little sleep not only makes you tired and cranky all day, it also has other unwanted side effects, including decreased creativity and accuracy, increased stress, tremors, aches and memory lapses or loss.
It also puts you at risk for symptoms similar to those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as a rapid heart rate and increased risk of heart disease or stroke. It can even play havoc with your immune system, according to Dr. Amit Narula, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Carroll Hospital, in Westminster, Md.
“It’s easier to get an infection and it could be harder or take longer to get rid of an infection,” Narula said in a hospital news release.
Waking up briefly during the night is normal, he said. But when you wake up for prolonged periods over eight hours, this is considered interrupted sleep.
When your slumber is interrupted, you have to start all over going through the four necessary stages of sleep. And that can stop you from getting the deep sleep you need.
LifeBridge Health, a Maryland-based health care provider affiliated with Carroll Hospital, offers these tips for better sleep:
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, food and drinks close to bedtime.
- Keep a sleep diary so you can talk to your doctor about your sleep habits and patterns.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
- Use your bed only for sex and sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- Keep screens such as TVs, smartphones and tablets out of the bedroom.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom.
- Avoid tight or restrictive clothes.
- Keep a to-do list, so you won’t obsess about tomorrow.
If you have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, talk with your doctor. Most sleep problems can be treated.
Sleep doctors can diagnose or eliminate problems such as sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and insomnia.