How to get a good night's sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep requires more than just going to bed on time. Try following these five sleep tips to give yourself the best chance of getting consistent, quality sleep each night. And if you feel like you’re doing everything you can to get a good night’s sleep but no longer have the energy to do the things you love, there might be more to the story. Sleep apnea affects more than 1 in 3 men and 1 in 6 women between age 30–70, with most people being undiagnosed.1 Talk to your doctor and ask about a sleep apnea test – which can be done in a sleep lab or the comfort of your own home.
Allocate enough time for sleep. Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise, so it’s important to allocate the right amount of time in your day for sleep and plan the rest of your schedule accordingly. Getting a good night’s sleep means 7–8 hours each night for adults (including older adults), 9–10 hours for teens, at least 10 hours for school-aged children and 11–12 hours for preschool-aged children.
Create consistent sleep habits. As creatures of habit, we’re usually more successful when following a routine. Sleep is no different. From your pre-sleep ritual to going to bed and waking up at the same time, you’ll find that consistency makes it easier to fall asleep each night.
Create a comfortable sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and comfortable – especially your bed. It may take some experimenting and an investment on your part, but finding an ultra-comfortable bed and pillow is invaluable. We spend one-third of our lives in bed, making it the one area of your life you don’t want to compromise on comfort.
Turn it off before bed. Whether it’s television, reading, email or texting, give yourself a nice window of time to unplug and relax before bedtime. Your body should associate your bed with sleep and these activities ramp up your brain activity rather than relaxing it. Television and bright light can also suppress melatonin production – making it difficult to fall asleep.
Utilize sleep technology. There are a variety of technologies out there that can help improve your sleep. The S+ by ResMed is the world’s first non-contact sleep sensor; it combines a bedside sleep monitor, smartphone app and web-based app to help you track and better understand your sleeping patterns. It then creates personalized feedback and suggestions to help improve your sleep.
What causes snoring?
What causes snoring is a question that can be answered multiple ways. From an anatomical standpoint, snoring is caused by a partially closed upper airway (the nose and throat). Everyone’s neck muscles relax during sleep, but sometimes they relax so much that the upper airway partly closes and becomes too narrow for enough air to travel through to the lungs. When this happens, it means that a person isn’t taking in enough oxygen for the body to perform its important functions. The brain then sends a signal to the body to wake up to get the oxygen it needs, likely resulting in the person waking up throughout the night without realizing it.
Why do people snore?
Why do some people snore and others don’t? Those who have enlarged tonsils, an enlarged tongue or excess weight around the neck are more prone to snoring. And structural reasons like the shape of one’s nose or jaw can also cause snoring. The snoring sound itself is a result of the narrowing of a person’s airway, which causes a throat vibration and the snoring sound. No matter the reason, 40% of normal adults snore regularly,1 whether they realize it or not.
Snoring and sleep apnea
Snoring and sleep apnea are linked at an alarming rate – 1 in 3 men and approximately 1 in 5 women who are habitual snorers suffer from some degree of obstructive sleep apnea.2 Sleep apnea prevents you from getting the healthy sleep you need to lead a refreshed, energetic life. It has also been linked to a number of other health conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart failure and hypertension. So regardless of what is specifically causing snoring for you, if you snore — or if you suspect you snore — consider it a sign that something might not be right. Take our short sleep apnea quiz.
Why is sleep important?
To understand why sleep is important, think of your body like a factory that performs a number of vital functions. As you drift off to sleep, your body begins its night-shift work:
Healing damaged cells
Boosting your immune system
Recovering from the day’s activities
Recharging your heart and cardiovascular system for the next day
We all know the value of sleeping well, and we’ve all experienced the feeling of being refreshed after a good night’s sleep – and the feeling of fatigue after a poor night’s sleep. But even though we know this, in our busy society, many of us are not getting the quality sleep needed to truly receive the health benefits of sleep.
Understanding the sleep cycle
Understanding what happens during sleep also means understanding the sleep cycle, which consists of two recurring phases: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-REM or non-rapid eye movement). Both phases are important for different functions in our bodies.
NREM sleep typically occupies 75–80% of total sleep each night. Many of the health benefits of sleep take place during NREM sleep – tissue growth and repair occurs, energy is restored and hormones that are essential for growth and development are released.
REM sleep typically occupies 20–25% of total sleep each night. REM sleep, when dreaming occurs, is essential to our minds for processing and consolidating emotions, memories and stress. It is also thought to be vital for learning, stimulating the brain regions used in learning and developing new skills.
If the REM and NREM cycles are interrupted multiple times throughout the night — either due to snoring, difficulties breathing or waking up frequently throughout the night — then we miss out on vital body processes, which can affect our health and well-being the next day and long term.
What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
If your body doesn’t get a chance to properly recharge – by cycling through REM and NREM – you’re already starting the next day at a disadvantage. You might find yourself:
Feeling drowsy, irritable or sometimes depressed
Struggling to take in new information at work, remembering things or making decisions
Craving more unhealthy foods, which could cause weight gain1
If this happens night after night, it places a tremendous strain on your nervous system, body and overall health. So if you’re not sleeping well or aren’t feeling rested when you wake up in the morning, it’s important to talk to your doctor and ask if a sleep study is right for you.