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Get Enough Sleep

two people cuddle each other in a bed while sleeping

How sleep helps

In the busy world we live in, you might find it hard to prioritize sleep, especially when it feels as if there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. But research shows that you're more likely to succeed at your tasks—and enjoy greater well-being—if you get some serious shuteye.

Sleep affects the entire body

Sleep affects our entire mind-body system. It plays a role in our moods, ability to learn and make memories, the health of our organs, how well our immune system works, and other bodily functions like appetite, metabolism, and hormone release.

Sleep is important down to the cellular level. Sleep helps the body to re-energize its cells. It also increases the amount of space between brain cells to allow fluid to flow and clear away toxins.

Stress impacts sleep

It's not easy to sleep when you're feeling overwhelmed. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 Americans say they lose sleep because of stress. That's especially unfortunate because getting quality sleep makes it easier to manage stress. some of the fallout of stress.

Are you getting enough rest?

The amount of sleep you need each night depends on your age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends:

Newborns (0-3 months)

14-17 hours

Infants (4-11 months)

12-15 hours

Toddlers (1-2 years)

11-14 hours

Pre-schoolers (3-5 years)

10-13 hours

School children (6-13 years)

9-11 hours

Teens (14-17 years)

8-10 hours

Adults (18-64 years)

7-9 hours

Older adults (65+ years)

7-8 hours

Experts suggest that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. This may vary if your body needs more sleep when your immune system is working overtime to fight off sickness. To assess whether you are getting enough sleep, ask yourself:

  • Am I often tired?
  • Am I using caffeine to get through the day?
  • Do I get up multiple times throughout the night?
  • Do I wake up feeling refreshed?
  • Do I get drowsy while driving or watching TV?

Quality of sleep matters

When a person consistently struggles to get enough sleep or good quality sleep, they have a higher risk for health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

Poor quality of sleep can also increase the risk of developing mental health symptoms like: manic episodes, a first episode of psychosis, paranoia, anxiety, and depression.

Additionally, sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of people under the care of a psychiatrist, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population. Among visitors to who scored moderately to severely depressed, 95% reported trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much at least several days in the past month.

Good quality of sleep means:

  • Being asleep for at least 85% of the time you are in bed.
  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less.
  • Waking up no more than once per night for no longer than 20 minutes.

Tips for improving your sleep

To sleep longer—and better—consider these suggestions:

Your body craves consistency, plus you're more likely to get enough sleep if you schedule rest like your other important tasks.

Drinking caffeine to stay awake during the day can keep you up at night. Try resisting the coffee and colas starting six to eight hours before bed.

Relax by taking a hot bath, meditating or envisioning a soothing scene while lying in bed. Turn off daytime worries by finishing any next-day preparations about an hour before bed.

Getting natural sunlight during the day helps to maintain your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Aim for 30 minutes of sun exposure and be sure to wear sunscreen.

Working out can improve sleep in lots of ways, including by relieving muscle tension. Don't work out right before bed, though, since exercise may make you more alert. If you like, try gentle upper-body stretches to help transition into sleep.

It can cause indigestion and heartburn, which can mess up sleep.

If you need a nap, take it before 3 p.m. and limit it to an hour.

The nicotine in tobacco products and vapes is a stimulant, which can keep you up at night.

Drinking too much before bed can make you wake up to go to the bathroom and drinking alcohol gets in the way of reaching the deep and restful stages of sleep.

Get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, like noises or bright lights. The light from screens can confuse your body’s internal clock.

No paying bills or writing reports in bed. Also, if you can't fall asleep after 15 minutes you can try some soothing music, but if you remain alert experts recommend getting up until you feel more tired.

For additional sleep guidelines, see the National Sleep Foundation's website. (But no screens right before bedtime!)

Sleep aids

If you're considering sleep medication, you can buy one of several over-the-counter products, which generally can be used safely for a few days. It is important to talk to your doctor before trying a sleep medication to make sure it will not negatively interact with any other medication you are taking. As for prescription medications, the National Sleep Foundation suggests a limit of four weeks—and simultaneously working on one's sleep habits. Never combine sleep medications with alcohol or other potentially sedating medicines, and be sure to allow at least 8 hours between taking a sleep medication and driving.

If you're wondering about the hormone melatonin, there is evidence of its usefulness in improving sleep and helping to regulate an irregular sleep cycle. Still, some experts urge caution, arguing that more research is needed to determine correct dosing and timing for taking a melatonin supplement.

If you're having serious sleep problems, see your doctor, especially if you have trouble more than three nights a week for a month. Your doctor can check whether your sleep issues are caused by some underlying health problem, like depression or a thyroid disorder, and can help with a treatment plan or referral to a sleep specialist. Also contact your doctor if you suspect a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, which involves snoring and gaps in breathing, or restless leg syndrome, which causes sudden urges to move your body, or if you are experiencing any unusual nighttime behaviors. It's also reasonable to see a health care professional if you still feel tired despite getting enough sleep.

If you want help learning to cope better with sleep problems, try to locate a therapist who offers cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. This treatment works by changing sleep-related beliefs and behaviors. You might, for example, rethink your notion that the whole night is ruined if you're not asleep by 10. A sleep clinic may also be able to help you locate such a therapist.

If you’re working on improving your sleep but still find yourself struggling, you might be showing the early warning signs of a mental health or substance use condition. Visit to take an anonymous, free, and private mental health test. It only takes a few minutes, and after you are finished, you will be given information about the next steps you should take based on the results.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat You can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741.

Did this article help increase your knowledge and understanding of mental health?