Sleep is so vital to optimal functioning yet it often feels like we’re not getting enough of it. To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interferes with our "circadian rhythm" or natural sleep/wake cycle. Lack of sleep can lead to higher risk of chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. Below are some strategies referred to as “sleep hygiene” that can help if you’re short on shut eye.
- Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Exercise daily.
- Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
- Turn off electronics before bed.
So how much sleep to we really need?