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Sleep Awareness Week: More quality rest is better for your health

March 3-10 is National Sleep Awareness Week and daylight saving time is on Sunday, March 10. Dr. Robert Schriner, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Collierville, discusses the importance of a good night’s rest.

How can I sleep better?

Sleep is a habit, so like any other good habit, you want to nourish it and allow yourself to have a standard type of routine and schedule. You want to make sure you are not consuming any type of caffeine or alcohol in the evening that will disrupt your sleep, and you don’t want to eat a large meal too close to bedtime because you will have reflux problems. You should also make sure that you have a fairly standard bedtime and awake time.

How much sleep do I really need?

It depends on your age. Obviously as we age from childhood to adulthood, we go from needing about12 hours of sleep to 7 to 8 hours.

The average person needs 7-8 hours a night. If you find yourself sleepy during the day, you probably need more sleep at night. If you sleep longer on the weekends than during the week, you probably need more sleep during the week.

• Adults need 7 to 9 hours

• Teens (ages 10 to 17) need 8.5 to 9.25 hours

• School-aged children (ages 5 to 10) need 10 to 11 hours

• Preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) need 11 to 13 hours

• Toddlers (ages 1 to 3) need 12 to 14 hours

• Infants (ages 3 to 11 months) need 14 hours

• Newborns (ages 0 to 2 months) need 12 to 18 hours

Is there a problem with falling asleep on the sofa watching television, not falling asleep in bed?

The problem with falling asleep on the sofa in the evening and sleeping one or several hours is you don’t get quality sleep like you do at night. Sleep is not only about the amount of time, it is allowing a cycle between the various stages of sleep.

What if there’s no time for sleep?

My advice is that you need to make time for sleep. The bottom line is sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising.

How can I help my child sleep better?

• Set a regular time for bed each night and stick to it.

Keeping to a regular bedtime routine makes it easier for a child to fall asleep quickly and awake feeling rested and alert.

• Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading him or her a story.

Playing action-packed games, watching TV, or rough-housing 20 minutes before bedtime can cause sleeping problems. Bedtime stories help your child relax and go to sleep.

• Avoid feeding children big meals close to bedtime. A heavy meal can cause a child to have trouble sleeping.

• Avoid giving children anything with caffeine less than 6 hours before bedtime.

Colas and other caffeine drinks can keep a child awake or make him or her restless during the night. Remember, chocolate has caffeine.

• Set the bedroom temperature so that it’s comfortable—not too warm and not too cold.

Extreme temperatures can make it hard for a child to fall asleep or stay asleep.

• Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. If necessary, use a small nightlight.

Televisions and other bright or loud distractions should be kept away from the bedroom.

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