Published on May 5th, 2013 | by Mattress Journal0
Sweet Dreams: May is Better Sleep Month
May is Better Sleep Month, and while this serves as a convenient excuse to grab a few extra guilt-free minutes of shut-eye, the real reason May carries the Better Sleep Month designation is to raise awareness of your current sleeping habits. According to the Better Sleep Council, one out of every two American adults admit that they are sleep deprived. That is more than 150 million Americans alone! Even the Center for Disease Control based in Atlanta, GA has chimed in to say that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. We’re no scientists, but still pretty sure it’s in our collective best interest to avoid public health epidemics.
Get Educated About Better Sleep Month
When trying to maintain, or obtain, a healthy lifestyle, many Americans focus on their diet and getting regular exercise. While these are two huge facets of healthy living, getting the correct amount of sleep is the crucial third element for enjoying mental, emotional, and physical health success. That’s why the Better Sleep Council earmarked the month of May as Better Sleep Month. There are a many ways you can evaluate and better your current sleep patterns, here are a few to get you started.
5 Quick Steps For Getting Better Sleep
Step 1: Establish how much sleep you need. This seems elementary, but when’s the last time you checked this information? The fact is, while adults over the age of 18 require 7-9 hours of continuous sleep per 24-hour cycle, the younger you are, the more sleep your body needs to recuperate and facilitate healthy, continuous growth. Also, what better time to establish a healthy sleeping pattern then when your kids are young and easiest to influence. So here are the goods
Newborns (0-2 months) 12-18 hours
Infants (3-11 months) 14-15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years) 12-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 11-13 hours
School-age children (5-10 years) 10-11 hours
Teens -10-17 years) 8.5-9.5 hours
Step 2: Make sure your sleeping on a high-quality, comfortable mattress. The First rule of Better Sleep Month is make sure your mattress is comfortable enough for you to actually sleep. Without the proper bed for your body type and physical needs, everything else is moot. Sure, price tags on quality mattresses may seem high, but bust out your calculator and do the math. You’re going to spend close to 8 hours a night on that sleeping platform for the next 10-20 years, depending on quality, so the price paid for achieving truly restful sleep is fractions of a penny. So if you can’t get comfortable, figure out what your current mattress is doing wrong, spend some time researching the best mattress for your needs. And, if you do so during Better Sleep Month, you get a cookie…Note, you don’t really get a cookie.
Step 3: Set, and keep, a consistent bedtime and wake up time. Of course this sounds easy, most feel like they go to bed around the same time each night, but if you pay close attention, how much of discrepancy is there in your night-night time? Just 30 minutes less of the appropriate amount of sleep for your age group can have drastic results for your physical and mental wellness. Our bodies utilize a Circadian rhythm, which regulates our intervals of being asleep and being awake. It works on a 24-hour cycle (fancy that!), and responds primarily to the light and darkness in our environment. That’s why most of us operate better during daylight hours, while feeling more tires when the sun goes down. The more regular of a sleeping pattern you can establish, the higher your Circadian rhythm performs, and the better you’ll feel.
Step 4: Reduce electronics in the bedroom. Many of us turn on the TV when we turn down the bed. But the folks behind Better Sleep Month say that no TVs, Smartphones, no computers, and no games. The reason for this no tolerance policy is that all of these electronic devices use intense back-lighting, which triggers a chemical reaction in our brains that instructs the body to stay awake. Also, these devices greatly reduce the likelihood that you’ll fall asleep at your established bedtime. Remember, failure to do so makes the Circadian rhythm angry, and you don’t want to make the Circadian rhythm angry.
Step 5: Set aside some wind-down time before heading to bed. Contrary to your own disillusioned self-perception, we are not machines. We don’t have an on/off switch as much as we have a slowly decreasing energy switch. Better Sleep Month advocates suggest you give yourself an hour before your established bedtime to reduce stress, relax your body and mind, and slow down your activities. It is important to note that this isn’t just a trick you can play on your mind, your brain runs your body, so it needs to know that sleepy time is approaching. Also, avoid stimulants like, bright lights, loud music, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Your body will thank you.
Better Sleep Month is designed to bring awareness to the issues, but don’t forget that sleeping better is important everyday for optimal health. Incorporating these five simple steps can help you improve your sleep this month, and make every month ideal for better sleep.