Tips For Getting Enough Sleep: When Was the Last Time You Had a Good Night's Sleep?

7 years ago

Are you one of the millions of Americans not getting enough sleep?  When was the last time you had a good night's sleep?  Can you even remember?

Woman asleep on couch with book

I can remember when I stopped getting enough sleep.  It was in my early twenties, when I started working night-shift as a nurse.  I didn't do it for too long (off and on for a few years), but once my body learned it could stay up all night, things would never be the same.  That was well over twenty years ago.  Today, I can be exhausted all day long (and I usually am), but once ten o'clock rolls around my body seems to get a second wind.  And since getting to bed by 10pm is just about impossible, I find myself seeing 11pm, midnight, 1am, and if I'm lucky by 2am I'm able to fall asleep.  Most nights I'm not so lucky and I manage to hit the hay around 3:30am.

[fyi...It's 3:05am right now]

We all know that it's important to get enough sleep.  But do you know why?

Too little sleep can cause:

  • Memory problems.
  • Anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • A weakening of the immune system.
  • An increase in the perception of pain.
  • Driving impairment.
  • Weight gain or loss.

Enough is enough.  I'm committed to turning my viscous cycle of sleep deprivation around by the end of the summer.  Here are a few of the ways I plan on trying to do that...

1.  I'm going to try to get up at the same time each morning.

2.  Before I do anything else, I'm going to swim laps in the pool.

3.  I'm going to make a to-do-list, to help prioritize my waking hours.

4.  I'm going to get my writing (and other work) done before 7pm.

5.  I'm going to resist the urge to nap during the day (even for a short time).

6.  I'm not going to eat too close to bedtime.

7.  I'm going to turn off the t.v. (and the computer) at least an hour before I plan to go to bed and read a book.

8.  I'm going to make an effort to get to bed before midnight.

Other tips for reducing sleep deprivation...

  • Try not to drink beverages with caffeine within six hours of your bedtime (that includes soda).
  • Some foods may help promote sleep – milk, tuna, pumpkin, artichokes, avocados, almonds, eggs, peaches, walnuts, apricots, oats, asparagus, potatoes, and bananas.
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It may initially help you fall asleep, but it also can cause disturbances in your sleep. Having an alcohol drink before bedtime may make it more likely that you will wake up during the night.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry…But also avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
  • Exercise is great but not too late in the day. Avoid exercising closer than 5 or 6 hours before bedtime.
  • If taking a nap, take it before 3pm and keep naps to under an hour.
  • Take a hot bath before bed.  The drop in body temperature after the bath may help you feel sleepy, and relaxed.
  • Have a good sleeping environment. Get rid of anything that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or a TV or computer in the bedroom.
  • Keeping the temperature in your bedroom on the cool side can help you sleep better.
  • If you can't sleep, don't stay in bed. After staying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.  The anxiety of not being able to sleep can actually make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Don't be afraid to see a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.

More bloggers on the topic of Sleep:

From Darryle Pollack at the Choose You Blog - Getting Enough Sleep...

We do it from the day we’re born until the day we die; and still it’s confounding. At times, sleep happens when you want it least; then it refuses to happen when you want it most. No wonder it’s the basis of dreams—-and desperation.

From Zen Family Habits - 6 Tips For Surviving Sleep Deprivation...

We’ve all heard that getting enough sleep is an important part of living your best life and staying productive and healthy…but what about those times when getting sleep is out of your control? Maybe you have a newborn or a sick child, or maybe you’re working two jobs to make ends meet.

Here are my tips for surviving a sleep-deprived season, shared from the trenches:

From Catherine Connors - Good Sleep Is A Wish The Tired Heart Makes...

I haven't had a good night's sleep in over four years. The last such night was probably sometime in the second trimester of my pregnancy with my first child, and even then it was probably the kind of sleep that was disrupted by all manner of first pregnancy anxieties. Since then, it's been one long battle with sleep-averse children, parental insomnia, second pregnancy discomfort and anxiety and just general household chaos, all of which works against sleep.

Also See:

How Much Sleep You Need By Age...

(0 to 2 months)…………..……10-1/2 to 18 hours*
(2-12 months)…………………..14 to 15 hours*

(12-18 months)…………………13 to 15 hours*
(18 months-3 years)…………12 to 14 hours*
(3-5 years) ……………………….11 to 13 hours*
(5-12 years) ……………………..9 to 11 hours

ADOLESCENTS…………………8-1/2 to 9-1/2 hours

ADULTS……………………………..7 to 9 hours

* including naps

Are you getting enough sleep?  Let us know in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at

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