The trusted source for
healthcare information and
Getting a Good Night's Sleep
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night and should feel refreshed after that much sleep. Unfortunately, Americans are sleeping less. Insufficient or disrupted sleep may contribute to decreased energy and fatigue, decreased alertness, and weight gain. Poor sleep increases the risk of developing depression and having a serious accident. This handout details good sleeping habits that may help improve both quantity and quality of sleep.
Get into a good routine
Prepare well for bed
Create an environment conducive to sleep
Eat to promote a good sleep
Treat other medical conditions that can interfere with sleep
Supplements to aid sleep
When to get medical follow up
Until the 1950s, most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our daily lives. We now know that our brains are very active during sleep. Moreover, sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that we are just beginning to understand.
At least 40 million Americans each year suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. These disorders and the resulting sleep deprivation interfere with work, driving, and social activities. They also account for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year, while the indirect costs due to lost productivity and other factors are probably much greater.
Almost everyone occasionally suffers from short-term insomnia. This problem can result from stress, jet lag, diet, or many other factors. Insomnia almost always affects job performance and well-being the next day. About 60 million Americans a year have insomnia frequently or for extended periods of time, which leads to even more serious sleep deficits. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40% of women and 30% of men. It is often the major disabling symptom of an underlying medical disorder.
Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits. For more serious cases of insomnia, researchers are experimenting with light therapy and other ways to alter circadian cycles.
Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. Available at: www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm. Accessed on June 18, 2007.