Monday , 18 June 2018

Sleep: Quantity or Quality? Tips for Improving Your Habits, Health

Submitted by Carrie Brazeal

How do you like the time change?  Hopefully by now you have adjusted to Daylight Savings Time.  It always takes me a couple of weeks to get back on schedule.  I just don’t like losing an hour of sleep in the spring!  But I love getting it back in the fall.  Do you feel the same way?

So let’s talk about sleep. How much sleep do you need?  Most adults need at least 7-9 hours per night.  If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’ll probably feel groggy or irritable.  Insufficient sleep is directly linked to poor health, so if you’re not getting enough each night, you are putting yourself at risk. 

When it comes to sleep, both quantity and quality are important.  Both are needed so that our brains and bodies can go through all the necessary stages of sleep for us to be healthy, alert, safe and productive the next day. 

Here are some tips from Janet M. Pollard, AgriLife Extension Associate –Health, that may help you get more quality as well as quantity sleep:

*Stick to a sleep schedule.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, weekends included. Most of us like to sleep later on weekends but that may cause you to be dragging on Monday when you resume your regular schedule.

*Exercise but not too late in the day.  Try to exercise 30 minutes a day but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.

*Avoid caffeine and nicotine since both stimulate the central nervous system.

*Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. A large meal can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep.  And all of us know what drinking too much at night causes!

*Drink a small glass of fat-free milk before bed.  The amino acid tryptophan in the milk will help make you feel sleepy.  All dairy foods as well as oats, bananas, poultry and peanuts are good sources of tryptophan.

*Nap only if necessary. A short (20-30 minute) nap can be beneficial.  Just don’t nap too long or too late in the day (after 3 p.m.) or you might find yourself awake at night.

*Relax before bed.  Take time to unwind. Finding some type of relaxing activity (reading, listening to music) can be helpful. Avoid watching TV or reading a book that is stimulating, frightening or violent right before bed. Turn off your computer at least one hour before bedtime since the light from the screen tends to stimulate your brain.

*Have a good sleep environment.  Your bedroom should be cool, dark, quiet and comfortable.

*Don’t lie in bed awake.  Don’t get in bed unless you are tired. If you are still awake after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

*See a medical professional if you continue to have trouble sleeping.  If you consistently find yourself feeling tired or not well rested during the day despite spending enough time in bed at night, you may have a sleep disorder.  Your family doctor or sleep specialist should be able to help you.

Getting enough sleep is just as important to your good health as eating right and exercising regularly.  Find out how much sleep you need in order to feel your best and then make sleep a priority.

Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.  She may be reached at or 972.548.4233 or metro 972.424.1460, Ext. 4233.

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