(Family Features) Despite a desire for perfect sleep, Americans are not even close to getting the recommended eight hours a night, and 1 in 4 Americans believes the sleep they are getting isn’t the quality rest they want and need.
“To put sleep deprivation into perspective, 37% of Americans report they have fallen asleep behind the wheel,” said Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health expert for Mattress Firm. “About 5% report falling asleep while driving on a monthly basis. Clearly, sleep deprivation is wide-spread and a risk factor for overall well-being.”
With chronic sleep deprivation, the brain’s ability to maintain attention and focus continues to decline over time. In addition to impairing mental function, lack of sleep has been associated with a host of risks to overall health.
Prevent sleep deprivation and take charge of your mental and physical health with these tips from Kansagra:
Nap responsibly. When you’re feeling tired, it’s no surprise the best solution may be sleep. Some research suggests a quick power nap can actually give you a stronger boost than caffeine. However, too much rest during the day can throw off your nighttime sleep pattern. Aim for no more than 20 minutes so you don’t wake up groggy, and time your nap for the mid-point of your wake cycle (halfway between when you wake up and go to sleep).
Limit screen time. If you turn to your phone to help wind down while you’re in bed, you’re not alone, but you may be doing more harm than good. According to a survey conducted by Mattress Firm on sleep habits, the average person scrolls on his or her phone while lying in bed for more than 12 minutes before shutting down for the night. What’s more, the light from the screen serves as a stimulant, as does the digital content you’re viewing. That means you’re making it physically harder to fall asleep than if you put down your devices at least 30 minutes before bed.
Stick to a sleep schedule. The average person gets less than six hours of sleep per night, according to the survey – a far cry from the eight hours most experts recommend. One way to buck this trend is to make it a point to turn in and wake up at the same time every day so you synchronize your sleep time with your internal clock. While eight hours is the standard, you may need to adjust up or down to find the amount sleep that lets you wake feeling rested.
Develop a pre-bedtime routine. You can train your body to prepare for sleep by creating a pattern or a routine that eases you toward sleep.
“Even something as simple as putting on a sleep mask each night, reading in bed for 20 minutes or practicing the same shower routine at the same time every night signals to your brain it’s time to hit the hay,” Kansagra said. “Creating a bedtime routine that lasts 20-30 minutes and sticking to that routine can make all the difference in your energy, productivity and mood.”
Find the right sleep position. If you’re looking for the secret to a good night’s sleep, comfort may be the key. According to the survey, those who sleep on their backs at night are most likely to report they slept “perfectly well.” The most common sleeping position, on your side, correlates with the worst sleep reports. It may take some trial and error to find the right position that keeps your spine aligned, allows you to breathe freely and evenly distributes your weight.
Top 5 Bedtime Rituals
A consistent bedtime routine, including these common rituals disclosed by respondents in a Mattress Firm survey, can help ease your way toward better rest.
- Reading (42%)
- Watching TV (42%)
- Taking vitamins (36%)
- Taking a shower or bath (36%)
- Drinking warm milk (36%)
Find more tips for getting better sleep at dailydoze.com.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images