Researchers recommend sleeping for 7-9 hours per night. Even small deficits can pose problems like decreased athleticism, diminished brain function, increased inflammation and a greater likelihood to get sick- sleeping only 6 hours per night makes you four times more likely to catch a cold when compared to sleeping 7 or more hours. Follow these additional tips for better sleep:
- Limit screen time before retiring- the blue light emitted from computer monitors, phones and TV’s can limit melatonin production and adversely affect sleep. Try reading from a book or magazine instead.
- Ideally, eat your last meal 3-4 hours before bedtime and especially limit heavy, spicy or high-fat foods. Ration how much you drink before bedtime to minimize bathroom breaks. Particularly limit caffeine in the afternoon and evening- caffeine has a half-life of 6-9 hours and can keep you awake long after the last sip.
- Stick to a sleep schedule, trying to retire and arise at the same time each day, including weekends.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow. Choose 100% cotton sleep clothes and sheets over synthetic materials (i.e. polyester). Some research has suggested that your “deep” REM sleep improves when your mattress is oriented so that your body is aligned North and South as opposed to East and West.
- Most people sleep best in a cool room; ideally between 60-67 degrees F.