Are you getting enough sleep at night? Do you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 1 in 3 American adults do not get healthy amounts of sleep. And stress can make the problem even worse.
The NIH says adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to stay in good mental and physical health, promote quality of life, and avoid an increased risk of injury. They recommend these tips for getting a good night's sleep:
- Go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends.
- Don't take naps after 3 p.m, and don't nap longer than 20 minutes.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
- Avoid nicotine completely.
- Get regular exercise, but not within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
- Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime is OK.
- Make your bedroom comfortable, dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold.
- Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep (for example, reading or listening to music). Turn off the TV and other screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- Don't lie in bed awake. If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something calming until you feel sleepy, like reading or listening to soft music.
- Talk with a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.
Teens and Sleep
Sleep problems are a special concern for teenagers. The average teen needs about 9 hours of sleep a night. Children and teens who don't get that much may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.
In addition to the sleep tips for adults, teens can also try:
- Avoiding screen time at least an hour before bed.
- Banning all-nighters (Don't leave homework for the last minute!)
- Writing in a diary or on a to-do list just before sleep, to reduce stress
- Sleeping no more than 2 hours later on weekend mornings than on weekday mornings.
Sleep Tips for Cancer Patients
Sleep disturbances can be very common in cancer patients and usually have more than one cause. People in cancer treatment may sleep more than usual, or they may have trouble sleeping. Learn what patients and caregivers can do to help.
NOTE: This story by Stacy Simon, senior editor, news, first appeared on