Sleep Review






Timing and the Optimal Amount of Sleep

Getting the proper amount of sleep and waking up at the right time is what we are all about. Consult the table below to see how much sleep your body needs and then use the sleep calculator to wake up at the right time. Everyone wants to feel refreshed and alert instead of groggy and upset.

Amount of Sleep Required by Age
AgeAmount of Sleep
Newborns 16 - 18 hours
Children (2-5 yrs)11 - 12 hours
Elementary Age (5-10 yrs)at least 10 hours
Adolescents (11-17 yrs)9 - 10 hours
Adults (17+ yrs)around 7 hours
Current Sleep Guidelines from Big Names

  • The American Academy of Sleep Sciences, the Sleep Research Society, CDC mostly recommend 7-9 hrs but will be updating recs soon
  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recs 7-8
  • Most experts recommend 10 or more for school age kids and younger, teens 9-10 hours
  • New sleep recommendations from National Sleep Foundation in January



Naps

Naps have no affect on the circadian rhythm, so feel free to take a nap during the day if you need it. A nap during the afternoon, if lying horizontally (ex. Supine position - flat on back facing up), can reduce blood pressure, relieve stress and can boost productivity. Siestas (mid-afternoon naps) are common in the Mediterranean and Latin America regions and are linked to a decrease in risk of heart attacks. Avoid late afternoon or evening naps that may interrupt your normal sleep routine.



Establish a Normal Routine

Having a routine that is performed each night trains the body to expect to fall asleep easily at a certain time. Attempt to do the same tasks at the same time, the same order, every night. Falling asleep is easiest when comfortable. Clean is comfortable.



Medicine Supplements Drugs and Stimulants

Caffeine is a stimulant that people use to keep them alert and give them energy. Caffeine works by slowing the actions of hormones in the brain. Alertness rapidly reduces when it wears off. An overly stimulated central nervous system is producing adrenaline which keeps you awake. It takes nearly six hours for half the caffeine one has consumed to dissipate. Avoid caffeine after dinner.

Alcohol and Marijuana while both help you get to sleep they both deter you from getting essential REM sleep.

Benzodiazepines have been used to treat insomnia and sleep disorders but like alcohol and marijuana, they are believed to reduce REM sleep. There are Nonbenzodiazepines that are an alternative your doctor may prescribe or be available over the counter. Both drug classes target the GABAa receptor. Melatonin supplements and Valerian root are herbal supplements which are available at most stores at low cost. Melatonin is a hormone that indicates the onset of sleep in the body.



Temperature

Part of the Circadian Rhythm during sleep is the lowering of the body temperature. You can trigger this artificially by lowering the temperature in the room with air conditioning or a fan blowing over your body to draw away warmth. Using a fan can sometimes cause dry mouth, so keep a glass of water at hand. During the winter months, it feels nice to take a hot shower or bath before getting in bed and cooling down to room temperature. A cold shower before getting into bed may have a similar effect but the temperature shock can cause alertness.



Light and Electronics

The body uses light and the environment to know when it is supposed to be awake and alert. Avoid using the television, cell phones, tablets, computers and bright light an hour or so before bed time. Most electronics are designed to simulate day time light and this tricks your brain. Some people may need to avoid having electronics of any sort in the bedroom. Don't want to wake with the morning light? Invest in a set of black out curtains to keep from waking before you need to. Alternatively, a comfortable sleep mask can accomplish the same goal.



Bedding, Neutral Spine and the Supine Position

You spend approximately one third of your life in your bed. Don't cheap out on your bedding. Clean, comfortable sheets and pillow cases will help you fall and stay asleep. The right comforter will help you stay the correct temperature without being smothering. The right mattress is the most important and most expensive part of your supplies however. The spine, neck and head need the right support to relieve stress from your body weight. Your pillow should provide support to your head without forcing your neck to be in an angled or cocked position. These are all going to be purchases that are specific to each individual; expect some trial and error. Remember that the body needs to be laying down to relieve blood pressure and reduce stress.



Can't Sleep

If you find yourself unable to fall asleep or fall back asleep; don't just lay there and stare at the clock. Get up and do something that engages your mind in a light duty capacity. Try reading a book or folding laundry. Recall that we want to avoid bright light and electronics. When actually lying in bed, it sometimes helps to use simple meditation techniques. Try to avoid thoughts that engage your brain. One such technique involves simply echoing "one" in your mind when you inhale and "two" when exhaling. This is a mindless, droning sort of activity that will assist in keeping your mind blank. Melatonin can also be helpful in triggering sleep if not used for an extended period of time (weeks).



Diet Related Advice

One of the most important things that happens during sleep is the restoration of the mind by flushing toxins out of the brain with spinal fluid. Keeping hydrated by drinking the proper amount of water will help flush the toxins out of your body. Consider drinking water after dinner instead of coffee, tea, soda, or alcohol. Certain types of food can really damage the balance of hormones in the body. Avoid foods that contain large amounts of sugar, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup. The main cause of Sleep Apnea is excess body weight. It is very difficult to fall asleep with air being forced down one's windpipe and stay asleep with said air drying out the mouth and throat. High quality sleep along with diet are key to hormone, particularly testosterone production.