KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Do you dread bedtime? From the tossing and turning to staring at the ceiling–you just can’t sleep.
Maybe it`s because of something you ate, or maybe your brain is just too ‘loud’ as it replays your day over and over.
FOX4 sat down with North Kansas City neurologist Dr. Scott Shorten to find out what we can do to make it easier to sleep and how much sleep we really need.
“It was a badge of honor: I only need four hours of sleep per night – well, the science is showing that most people need a minimum of seven and some need as much as nine,” Dr. Shorten told FOX4.
Dr. Shorten said feeling tired during the daytime is not good, and you should not depend on caffeine to get you through the day.
Dr. Kelly Baron, University of Utah, agreed and said you likely need more sleep if you still feel tired while driving.
“We see people who have some serious sleepiness behind the wheel and that`s a very dangerous condition,” Dr. Baron said.
Am I getting enough sleep
The National Sleep Foundation says you should ask yourself some questions to see if your current amount of sleep works for you. For example, you should ask whether you are you productive, healthy, and happy on just seven hours – or do you need nine hours of sleep to really feel ‘normal.’
Questions to ask yourself
- Are you productive with just 7 hours of sleep? Or do you need 9 to feel “normal?”
- Do you depend on caffeine to get through the day?
- Do you feel sleepy while driving?
What to do to get more sleep
If your current sleep time isn`t working for you – you can take action as soon as tonight by checking a few simple things. First, make sure the temperature in your bedroom is just right and you have plenty of blankets to curl up under or toss off if you get hot.
Dr. Shorten recommends setting your thermostat anywhere between 60 to 67 degrees. He also said to avoid exercise or hot baths before bed. Both of these heat up your overall body temperature and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Once you have the temperature of your bedroom just right, check the lighting and everything sitting out. Maybe you need black out curtains to block lights from waking you up. Also, if you have clutter, you may need to tidy up. Dr. Baron said clutter in the room reminds people of things they need to do, which ultimately adds to nighttime stress.
Another thing you can do is only sleep in your bedroom. Avoid watching TV, talking on the phone or completing tasks while in bed.
“Keeping the bed essentially only for sleep. If we do too many other activities while we are in bed then the brain can`t figure out which one it should be doing,” Dr. Shorten said. “Should it be trying to sleep? Should it be playing on the computer, talking on the phone with friends, or whatever.”
If you do all of these and still find yourself struggling to fall asleep, Dr. Baron suggests doing something calming.
“Definitely don`t get up and do your bills, check your taxes, answer emails,” she said.
Don’t do anything that requires you to turn on the lights. LED bulbs can throw your sleep cycle out of whack. Install dimmers – or light bulbs that remove blue light if you need to have lights on around bedtime.
Also, that TV you use to fall asleep is actually keeping you awake. The constant change in sounds disturbs your rest. Experts suggest putting it on a timer to turn off.
7 things you can do to get better sleep
1. Check your bedroom.
a. Covers: enough to keep warm, or toss off
b. Temperature: 60 – 67 degrees
2. Do not exercise or take a hot bath before bed.
3. Consider black out curtains
4. Remove clutter/work from bedroom
5. Keep the bed for sleep only!
6. Dim the lights. LED will keep you awake.
7. Turn off the TV or put it on a timer to switch off.
When to seek help
“So if you`re doing all the things right, and you`re getting enough duration of sleep, yet still feeling too tired in the daytime. That is the time to seek advice,” Dr. Shorten said.