Incredibly important for health and well being, sleep maybe the single biggest thing people stress over, particularly as they get older and seem to have more difficulty with it. Caregivers and new parents also have a hard time since they are often up and down for what seems like the entire night.
To the question of “How much sleep do you need?” check the chart below.
To see if you are getting the right amount of sleep for your body (everyone is different so you may require more or less) take the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleepiness Test. Interestingly, the test doesn’t ask you how many hours you slept but rather assess by how you are feeling over the last two weeks.
There is a fascinating study of people living “traditional lifestyles,” hunter-gatherers, where they are not using electricity. Turns out these groups sleep for nightly blocks of 6.9 and 8.5 hours, and they spend at least 5.7 to 7.1 hours of those soundly asleep. This is similar to westerners and if anything, they had slightly less sleep. What You Can Learn from Hunter-Gatherers’ Sleeping Patterns
To aid in sleeping, consider the following:
• Design your bedroom so it’s fit for sleep: Your room should make you feel relaxed, peaceful and a refuge where you can unwind and fall asleep. Dark and cool rooms, filled with colors and items you enjoy, along with bedding that fits your comfort needs should be a welcoming space. Keep it clean and uncluttered (make the bed each morning). Limit noise. Scents may be helpful for some, but can be a real distraction if you have allergies or are sensitive to smells. Check out the National SleepFoundation’s Six Tips to Design the Ideal Bedroom
• Naps are wonderful but best to do it between 1 and 3 pm-the normal siesta time in many parts of the world-as it fits with normal circadian rhythms.
• Exercise can help you sleep. Two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity or one and a quarter hours of more vigorous activity per week will aid sleep. Avoid exercising just before bed.
• Try some of the Qigong and Yoga poses that help increase sleeping.
• Blue light promotes wakefulness so turn off screens (TVs, computers, Kindles, phones) as they can keep you awake.
• “White noise” can help to reduce the nightly noises that might disturb your sleep (e.g. traffic, noisy neighbors, snoring partner etc.)
• A cooler room is more conducive to a good night’s rest. However, comfy feet can make all the difference in how you sleep. If you have poor circulation and your feet get cold, wear socks.
• Try a warm bath before bed time
• Uberman Sleep Schedule: If you are in a situation where you can’t get enough sleep (thinking caregivers here) in one stretch, take six 20 to 30 power naps every four hours during the day. Don’t recommend this for a long term strategy, but if you’re in an intense caregiving situation, this might be helpful. Keep in mind that it takes a while to adjust.
• If your sleep cycle is off- been traveling, on vacation or spending countless hours in the hospital-you can reset your sleep cycle by not eating for 16 hours.
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