Everything You Need To Know About Healthy Sleep

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Understanding healthy sleep

In today’s fast-paced world a good night’s sleep has become an indulgence. It was down on our list of priorities after work chores social time and entertainment.

However sleep should not be a luxury. It’s as important to your physical and mental health as food and water.

The body’s need for sleep is a relatively new area of ​​research. Scientists are studying what happens to the body during sleep and why the process itself is so important. We do know that sleep is necessary:

  • maintain critical body functions
  • restore energy
  • repair muscle tissue
  • Let the brain process new information

We also know what happens when the body doesn’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to a range of mental and physical problems including impairing your ability to:

  • think clearly
  • focus
  • react
  • control emotions

This can cause serious problems in the workplace and at home.

Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes cardiovascular disease obesity and depression. It also affects your immune system reducing your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.

Our sleep habits and sleep needs change as we age.

According to the National Sleep Foundation your goal should be to get the amount of sleep listed below:

Younger children have greater sleep needs. Many children will reach their sleep goals with the help of naps.

Certain factors can affect how much sleep you need. Genes can determine how long you sleep. Your genes can also affect how you respond to sleep deprivation.

Likewise the quality of sleep you get when you’re infected with Zzz is a factor in how much sleep you end up needing each night. People who get quality sleep without waking up may need less sleep than people who wake up frequently or have trouble falling asleep.

Everyone has unique sleep needs. Learn more about what drives your decisions – and how to make you quieter.

Healthy sleep probably boils down to tricking your body (and your brain) into giving you better longer and more restorative rest periods. Here are some ideas for improving sleep quality and sleep duration:

Establish a sleep routine

Having a regular bedtime and sticking to it can train your body to get better sleep. Follow the schedule even on weekends and holidays.

Kick Fido out of the room

You may enjoy sleeping with your furry family but research shows that pet owners who let their animals sleep with them have more sleep disruption and lower quality sleep.

Cut out caffeine

Even if you only drink it during the day stimulants may keep you awake at night.

Do not consume caffeinated foods or beverages after noon. That contains:

  • tea
  • soft drinks
  • chocolate

Put down your phone

Swear to put away all electronics at least an hour before bed. Bright lights stimulate your brain which can make sleep more difficult.

Say no to a nightcap

If you’re sipping wine while watching TV it’s time to break the habit. That’s because alcohol can interfere with your brain waves and natural sleep patterns.

You won’t feel rested even if you’re awake all night.

The bottom line

Good sleep is about developing good habits. Get more tips and tricks here.

Sleep disorders are conditions that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Occasional sleep disturbances like jet lag stress and a busy schedule can interfere with your sleep. However if your sleep is frequently disturbed it could be a sign of a sleep disorder.

There are several common sleep disorders:

  • InsomniaIs a condition characterized by difficulty falling asleep difficulty staying asleep or both.
  • Sleep apnea A sleep disorder that occurs when your airways are repeatedly blocked while you sleep.
  • NarcolepsyInvolves a daytime “sleep attack” characterized by suddenly feeling very sleepy or falling asleep without warning.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)It’s a feeling that you need to keep moving your legs even when you’re asleep.
  • Parasomniasare abnormal behaviors or movements during sleep such as nightmares and sleepwalking.

The quality of sleep is just as important as the amount of sleep.

Many people with sleep disorders sleep enough hours but don’t reach a deep enough stage of sleep to feel fully rested and refreshed in the morning. Frequent awakenings during the night can also prevent you from entering a critical stage of sleep.

Sleep disturbance may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Read about how to diagnose and treat these conditions.

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder. This happens when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and then narrow or close the airway. Because the air passages are blocked by the tissue you can’t take in air and you can’t get air out.

During sleep apnea you stop breathing repeatedly during sleep. Even if you don’t realize it you wake up briefly to regain your breath.

Disrupted sleep can cause the following symptoms:

  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • snoring
  • sleep deprivation
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • headache

Left untreated sleep apnea can lead to long-term complications and health risks such as heart disease memory loss diabetes and high blood pressure.

If your sleep apnea symptoms are mild your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes. These include:

  • losing weight
  • quitting smoking
  • treating nasal allergies

For moderate or severe cases your doctor may prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The device provides constant air flow through a mask worn over the mouth and nose. This airflow prevents the passage from closing when you are asleep.

If these treatments are unsuccessful your doctor may consider surgery to remove or reduce tissue close to the airway. Your doctor may also consider jaw surgery. This procedure moves your jaw forward allowing air to move freely behind your tongue and soft palate.

If sleep apnea is not treated it can lead to serious medical complications. Learn about the effects of apnea and the importance of seeking treatment.

Sleep paralysis causes temporary loss of muscle control and function. It happens right before or after you fall asleep. It can also happen when you try to wake up.

Sleep paralysis is one of the most common sleep disorders. One review estimates that 7% of people may experience this.

Symptoms of sleep paralysis include being unable to move your body or head when you try to fall asleep or wake up. These episodes may last a few seconds or minutes.

There is no single known cause for sleep paralysis. Instead it’s often considered a complication of some other condition.

For example people with the sleep disorder narcolepsy may often experience sleep paralysis. Other underlying medical conditions such as mental health problems and lack of sleep may also play a role as well as drug and substance use.

The main goal of treating sleep paralysis is to first address the underlying condition or problem that may be causing the loss of muscle function.

For example a doctor may prescribe antidepressants to someone with sleep paralysis due to a specific mental health problem such as bipolar disorder.

You may be able to prevent some sleep paralysis episodes. Explore prevention techniques and treatments for this common sleep disorder.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. It is believed that about one-third of adults experience symptoms of insomnia. As many as 10% have symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed with clinical insomnia.

If you have insomnia you may have trouble falling or staying asleep. It can also cause you to wake up too early or leave you feeling refreshed after falling asleep.


Temporary insomnia can be caused by life events such as stress trauma or pregnancy. Changing your daily habits such as starting work at non-traditional hours can also lead to temporary insomnia.

However chronic insomnia may be the result of an underlying disease or condition. These include:

  • obesity
  • back pain
  • knee pain
  • anxiety or depression
  • menopause
  • substance misuse


Common treatments for insomnia include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).You will work with a therapist to treat underlying mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
  • Sleep hygiene training.A sleep specialist will work with you to build better sleep habits.
  • Treatment for underlying conditions.Your doctor will identify the problem that may be causing your sleep problems and seek treatment for both conditions.
  • Medication.In the short term some sleep medications may help relieve symptoms of insomnia.
  • Lifestyle changes.Adjusting your daily schedule and activities may also be beneficial. This includes avoiding caffeine and exercising before bed.

The bottom line

The main goal of insomnia treatment is to help you fall asleep more easily. A secondary goal is to help treat any underlying cause or condition that is keeping you awake. Find out everything you need to know about the disease.

Despite the importance of sleep 35.2% of U.S adults get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. About 70 million American adults suffer from chronic sleep problems.

Not getting enough sleep can have a cumulative effect on your health. The longer you don’t get enough sleep the worse your health problems.

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of problems:

Memory issues

During sleep your brain clears the plaques and proteins that formed during the day. Without proper sleep these plaques and proteins may remain.

Over time this can interfere with the way you process and remember new information and form long-term memories.

Weakened immunity

If you don’t get enough sleep your body’s immune defense system can’t fight off invading bacteria and viruses including the common cold and flu.

Decreased libido

People who are sleep deprived may also experience reduced libido due to decreased testosterone levels.

Cardiovascular conditions

Heart disease Hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases are more common in people with chronic sleep deprivation.

Weight gain

Research shows that lack of sleep can make you crave high-fat high-calorie foods. Also if you don’t get enough sleep the chemicals in your brain that normally tell you to stop eating aren’t as effective. This can cause you to gain weight.

The bottom line

Think of a sleep-deprived body like a car with a flat tire. The car is running but it’s moving slowly and with less and less power and power. The longer you drive in this condition the more damage you will do to your car.

In addition to more serious health problems lack of sleep can lead to poor balance and increase the risk of accidents. Read on for the effects of sleep deprivation.

High-quality sleep can avoid many short-term problems such as fatigue and poor concentration. It can also prevent serious long-term health problems.

The benefits of good sleep include:

  • Reduced inflammation. Lack of sleep can lead to inflammation throughout the body which can lead to cell and tissue damage. Long-term inflammation can lead to chronic health problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Improved concentration.People who get enough sleep are more productive and have better memory and concentration than people who are chronically sleep-deprived.
  • Eating fewer calories. Sleep deprivation and deprivation can disrupt the chemicals responsible for regulating appetite. This can cause you to overeat and possibly gain weight so getting enough sleep can help.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.Lack of sleep increases the risk of chronic cardiovascular disease such as heart disease high blood pressure and stroke. Healthy sleep can lower your risk.
  • Reduced risk of depression.Insufficient or low-quality sleep can increase the risk of depression anxiety and other mental health problems. Additionally 90% of people diagnosed with depression reported poor sleep quality.

Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about preventing eye bags. Discover five more reasons to get a good night’s sleep.

Short-term sleep problems may not require medical attention. Lifestyle changes or over-the-counter (OTC) options may be sufficient.

Chronic sleep disorders may require a doctor’s treatment plan.

The type of sleep therapy you use depends on several factors:

  • root cause of sleep disturbance
  • The type of interference you are experiencing
  • How long have you been dealing with them

Treatment options for chronic sleep problems often include a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Your doctor can help determine when more serious treatment such as surgery is needed.

Sleeping pills

Sleeping pills may be most useful for people with short-term problems such as jet lag or stress. These medicines are designed to help you fall asleep or stay asleep.

However prolonged use of them can have serious consequences including risk of dependence.

Common OTC sleeping pills use low-dose antihistamines to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. These drugs include:

  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Aleve PM)
  • doxylamine succinate (Unisom)

Prescription sleeping pills are more likely to cause dependence problems. That’s why you should work closely with your doctor and use them only when needed.

These medicines include:

  • ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • temazepam (Restoril)
  • zaleplon (Sonata)
  • zolpidem (Ambien)
  • zolpidem extended release (Ambien CR)

Natural sleep aids

Some sleep-deprived people may wish to avoid medication and use alternative therapies to help with sleep. These include:

  • Melatonin:Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle. It is available as a dietary supplement.
  • Valerian:Valerian is another natural sleep aid. It is extracted from plants and sold as a dietary supplement. However research on its effects on insomnia has been inconclusive.
  • Lavender:Lavender aromatherapy is used as a sleep aid. Extracts of purple flowers are available as supplements.

Researchers continue to find all-natural ways to induce sleep. Familiarize yourself with six other natural sleep aids.


CBT is considered a first-line treatment for some sleep disorders including insomnia.

Talking with a therapist may help if you have trouble falling and staying asleep. The two of you will work together to identify and correct intrusive thought patterns or thoughts that may be preventing you from getting restful sleep.

Essential oils

Three types of essential oils are expected to treat sleep problems:

  • Lavender.This relaxing scent is used in a variety of sleep-promoting products. Research shows that it can also affect your nervous system which can promote better and more restorative sleep.
  • Clary sage oil.Clary sage oil also increases relaxation which promotes sleep.
  • Sleep blends.A blend of essential oils designed to promote sleep is also available. These blends often contain oils like lavender spruce and chamomile all of which have relaxing properties.

These oils have all been studied for their effects on sleep. Review the research results and decide if essential oils are right for you.


With hypnosis you can learn to relax and prepare for sleep. Hypnosis is also used to reduce pain and relieve symptoms of health conditions that can prevent restful sleep such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A trained hypnotherapist will use verbal instructions to help you enter a state of deep relaxation and focus. A therapist can then help you learn to respond to suggestions or cues that make sleep easier and more restorative.

It has been suggested that hypnosis may increase the amount of time you spend in deep sleep cycles. This can improve sleep quality and make you feel more rested.

Guided meditation

Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on a thought or goal such as reducing stress or relaxing.

People new to meditation may find this practice helps them learn to relax and rest. As a result sleep may become easier and more restful.

Guided meditation is usually performed by a therapist hypnotherapist or other practitioner trained in the appropriate technique. These instructions may be available on tape or in a podcast application or video. You can also take classes from a tutor.

The bottom line

Shop for our expert-proven products for deeper sleep.

Each sleep disorder requires different treatments. Learn more about sleep disorders here.

There are two main types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. When you fall asleep you enter non-REM sleep. A brief period of REM sleep followed. The cycle continues throughout the night.

Non-REM sleep is divided into four stages from light sleep to deep sleep. Each stage is responsible for a different body response. For example in the first stage your brain waves start to slow down helping you go from waking to sleep.

Enters stage 5 of sleep or REM sleep about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This is the moment when you experience dreaming.

Your eyes move quickly from side to side your heart rate returns to near-normal and you may feel quadriplegic.

The REM phase of each sleep cycle gets longer. The REM phase starts for a short time but later REM phases can last up to an hour. On average an adult will experience 5 to 6 REM stages per night.

All stages of sleep are important but deep sleep and REM sleep are the most critical. The important restorative function of sleep happens then. Learn what happens to sleep stages and understand why it’s important to have multiple sleep cycles each night.

You may be familiar with how anxiety affects sleep. If you’ve ever lost sleep over the unfinished tasks of the day the relationship between the two is clear.

Stress and anxiety are major risk factors for many sleep disorders and disturbances including insomnia. Anxiety can make it more difficult to fall asleep and it may also prevent you from getting restful sleep.

Likewise people with chronic sleep problems may experience anxiety as a result. Bedtime can stir up a lot of worry and fear that you’re going to sleep poorly again. That’s enough to get you through a restless night of tossing and turning.

If your anxiety is interfering with your sleep only occasional lifestyle changes can treat the disturbance.

Taking a short daily walk can help you get ready for sleep like taking an hour before bed and putting away all your electronics or writing down a to-do list in your head.

If your sleep problems become chronic it’s time to talk to your doctor. They can suggest possible insomnia treatments such as sleep aids and CBT.

The hormone melatonin is naturally produced by your body. It helps tell your body to slow down at night in preparation for sleep. That’s why it’s often called the “sleep hormone.”

While melatonin isn’t solely responsible for sleep it does affect your body’s natural circadian rhythm. This biorhythm tells you when to wake up to eat and sleep.

For example when your body senses that it’s getting darker it produces more melatonin to prepare you for bedtime. When the sun rises and your body senses the light it turns off melatonin production so you can wake up.

OTC melatonin supplements are also available. Consider taking a supplement if you experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances. They boost your hormone levels and allow your body to return to its normal sleep-wake cycle.

Remember that side effects from medications are possible. It may be wise to discuss taking melatonin with your doctor before starting.

In addition to promoting healthy sleep melatonin can reduce heartburn and tinnitus symptoms. Discover other benefits of melatonin.

Babies need a lot of sleep early in life. However around 4 months of age their sleep cycles can become disrupted.

This is called the 4-month sleep regression. It’s normal and temporary but frustrating for both parents and babies.

During this time babies are growing and learning more about their surroundings. This can cause changes in their sleep patterns. Your baby may wake up during the night and refuse to go back to bed.

Symptoms of sleep regression include:

  • fussiness
  • taking fewer naps during the day
  • not sleeping through the night

If your child also has symptoms such as a fever runny nose or upset stomach they may be sick.

You can manage sleep regression by trying to give your baby an outlet to use all their energy and newfound skills. Allow plenty of time for engagement and exploration.

You can also make sure your baby is well fed. Babies who are reaching new developmental milestones or increasingly exploring their surroundings may be distracted and less likely to eat. Having a full stomach can help them sleep longer.

Also make sure to keep their bedroom as dark as possible. If they wake up the dark room may signal them to go back to sleep. However light may stimulate them and encourage them to wake up. Get more tips on dealing with your 4-month sleep progression.

For some people sleep is as natural as blinking or breathing. For others getting enough quality sleep is a major challenge that requires lifestyle changes or medical intervention.

Sleep problems can have many causes from short-term stressors to severe long-term sleep disturbances. If you have chronic sleep problems talk to your doctor about finding a solution.

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