Sleep (General) Tips

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A Night in the Sleep Center

You have a Sleep Study or Polysomnogram scheduled so it will require an overnight study in the Sleep Lab to diagnose Sleep Apnea. Your primary doctor should have already completed a history and physical on you in the office and sent that information on to the Sleep Lab to have on hand at your night study.

A Sleep Technician or Sleep Lab Coordinator should call you with detailed instructions on what to bring to the lab and what you should expect from your overnight study. If the lab does not call, you call them.

Normally you should bring your medications, your medical history, and sleepwear with a button open to the front, your pillow if needed, toiletries, reading material if needed, and cloths for the next day. You do not need to bring anyone with you because there is not room for him or her to stay.

Once at the Sleep Lab you will be, ask to fill out a questionnaire, and get dressed for bed. Most Sleep Labs nowadays look like a hotel room. The Sleep Technician will attach electrodes to your head, face, and legs. The electrodes attach with a water-soluble paste. There are no needles involved and no need to be anxious. Your brain activity (EEG), Muscle (EMG), Rapid Eye Movement(REM) will be recording onto a special sleep computer during the night. A small recorder is attach like an oxygen tube to your nose and records air movement from the nose and mouth. Effort belts attached to the chest and abdominal and record respiratory effort throughout the night. After you are ready for bed the technician will turn lights out and monitoring for the night will begin.

When you wake in the morning, the technician will get your settings, vital signs and unhook the wires. You may shower and you are free to go

How much sleep is necessary?

How Much Sleep Is Necessary?

Toddlers need 11 hours of sleep every night, plus a two-hour nap during the day.
Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep a night.
School-age children need 10 hours of sleep each night.
Teens need 9.25 hours of sleep every night. Most get less than 8.5.
Adults need about 8 hours of sleep every night. To determine exactly how much sleep you need - on a night you feel fairly rested, sleep until you wake up on your own. Feel rested? The length of the time you slept is how much sleep you need.

If you get one hour less sleep than you need each night for eight nights in a row, your brain will need sleep as desperately as if you had stayed up all night.

Source: William Dement, Stanford University Sleep Researcher

How can I sleep better?

Good Sleep Hygiene

Practice the following for good sleep hygiene:

1. Sleep as much as you need to feel refreshed and healthy the following day, but not more. Excessively long times in bed seems to be related to shallow sleep.
2. Try to get up at about the same time EVERY morning, regardless of when you retired the night before. This helps establish a sleep/wake rhythm of cycle and will eventually help you feel sleepy at the same time each night.
3. Exercise the same amount each day, preferably in the late afternoon or early evening. Occasional exercise does not necessarily improve sleep the following night. Too much activity late in the evening can stimulate your body and make it difficult to relax for sleep.
4. Make sure the bedroom is quiet and dark. Occasional loud noises, like aircraft fly-overs, disturb sleep even in people who are not awakened by noises and cannot remember them in the morning.
5. Keep the temperature comfortable -- neither too warm or cold. 65 degrees farenheit is recommended.
6. Don't go to bed until you feel sleepy. If it's bedtime but you're not tired, do something to relax (like reading) until you feel sleepy.
7. A light snack may help sleep. A heavy meal will not.
8. An occasional sleeping pill may help, but chronic use is ineffective.
9. Avoid napping. Usually naps do more harm than good; you will be less sleepy when you want to sleep.
10. Caffeine in the evening disturbs sleep, even in those who feel it does not.
11. Alcohol helps people fall asleep more easily, but that sleep is fragmented.
12. Don't smoke. Chronic tobacco use disturbs sleep.
13. Don't rehash today's problems or worry about tomorrow's schedule.
14. If you can't sleep, go to another room, and do something relaxing. Reading or a light snack may help.

Does sleep have a restorative function?

Restorative Function of Sleep

It is widely believed that sleep has a restorative function, both psychologically and physically, but what precisely is being restored during sleep? Presumably the cells that make up our body. They increase in numbers by a process of division, especially in our early years, and are replaced when damaged. Sleep probably facilitates the process of cell growth and the regeneration of bodily functions. To some extent this might also occur while we are awake, but ideally it requires a redirection of our energy resources away from the organs involved in waking activity. Thus, most of the body's machinery shuts down for the night in order to conserve enough energy for cell growth and regeneration. Like recharging the batteries of an electric car, it does not matter when it is done provided it occurs with some regularity - otherwise, performance becomes progressively slow and unreliable.

Where did the idea that we need 8 hours of sleep come from?

The 8 Hour Idea

Where did the idea that we need 8 hours of sleep come from? Anthropologists believe that the eight hours of nightly sleep required by most people today were genetically programmed when the first humans walked the earth along the equator - where it is dark for just over eight hours per day. Sleep problems arise when we step out of sync with this circadian rhythm that would otherwise wake us up naturally with the rising sun and send us to bed soon after dark.

* Source: Healthwise, Fall 1995

What group of people are most sleep-deprived?

The Most Sleep Deprived

While there is some individual variation, the most zzz-deprived group of all is high school and college students who study and socialize well into the wee hours of the morning. In fact, according to Dr. James Maas, a Cornell University researcher, 17- to 25-year-olds need almost as much sleep as very young children...nearly ten hours a night for optimal rest and functioning. The average college student, however, racks up only six, resulting in sleep debt.

* Source: Healthwise, Fall 1995

Does alcohol affect sleep?

Alcohol and Sleep

Users of large amounts of alcohol show a sleep pattern which is "prematurely aged", with many awakenings, many stage changes, and decreased restful sleep. Because the sleep is shallow and fragmented, total time in bed may be increased and the sleep/wake rhythm becomes blurred. This can result in excessive daytime sleepiness, and once again in poor sleep patterns at night. Even after one or two years of abstinence, the sleep of many former alcoholics remains disturbed. It is unclear whether these sleep disturbances are a result of permanent damage caused by alcohol or whether poor sleep always existed and alcohol was used initially to medicate the sleep problem.

How does menstruation affect sleep?

Menstruation and Sleep

Progesterone is the female hormone that prepares the womb for pregnancy; it's also integral to inducing sleep. Low progesterone levels during the beginning of the menstrual cycle can interfere with deep sleep, but when ovulation starts, hormone levels rise, causing sleepiness during the day. As menstruation begins, levels of both progesterone and estrogen drop, potentially causing insomnia. If you suspect your sleep is being affected by your menstrual cycle, you might want to keep a sleep diary. A diary can help you determine when in your cycle you should make an extra effort to avoid caffeine, late afternoon or evening workouts, and other factors that could exacerbate the problem. But if you're experiencing severe insomnia or extreme fatigue during the day, talk to your health care provider.

* Source: Suzanne Frank, The Hearst Corporation

What are the benefits of sleeping on a waterbed?

Waterbed Benefits

Hospitals use waterbeds and attest to a wealth of sound medical data confirming therapeutic benefits:

  • Waterbeds permit unrestricted circulation

  • Watherbed warmth works to speed up relaxation, sooth sore muscles and relieve tension

  • Waterbeds increase ease of falling asleep

  • Waterbeds reduce stiffness in the morning

  • Waterbeds relieve the pain of arthritis, patients require less pain medication

  • Pregnant women can even sleep on their stomachs

  • A watermattress is the most sanitary surface one can sleep on
  • *Source: Natural Sleep

    What is the purpose of sleep?

    Sleep's Purpose

    There is a theory that we spend part of the night working on the brain (paradoxical sleep) and the rest of the night working on the body (orthodox sleep). Presumably these two restoration jobs would be taken in turns so that at whatever time it is necessary for us to wake, we will have received some benefit from each of them. This is almost certainly an over-simplification but there is some evidence that fits quite neatly. For example, it has been shown that athletes whose lifestyle puts a great deal of strain on their bodies need more orthodox sleep. Children need a greater amount of both kinds of sleep to allow growth, especially paradoxical sleep in the early weeks when the gray matter of the brain is developing very quickly.

    Does sleep loss affect our immune system?

    Sleep Loss and Our Immune System

    A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine (November-December 1994) found that until sleep debt is paid off, our infection-fighting immune cells are charged interest. Researchers in San Diego deprived twenty-three men aged 22 to 61 of four hours of sleep (from 3 to 7 a.m.) for just one night, and found that the activity of cells that fight viral infections was markedly reduced in all of the subjects the morning following sleep loss. The next night, the subjects were allowed a full night's sleep, which was followed by a full immune cell recovery the next morning. Preliminary results from the same study also show decreased immune cell activity from sleep loss during the earlier part of the evening. It stands to reason then, say investigators, that repeated sleep loss means longer stretches of impaired immune system function.

    * Source: Healthwise, Fall 1995

    What happens to the brain during orthodox (Non-REM) sleep?

    Orthodox (Non-REM) Sleep

    During orthodox sleep, the brain is apparently resting. Its blood supply is reduced and its temperature falls slightly. Breathing and heart rate are regular. The muscles, however, remain slightly tensed. Orthodox sleep is broken up by about five (5) periods of paradoxical sleep which are of progressively longer duration throughout the course of the night.

    How does pregnancy affect sleep?

    Pregnancy and Sleep

    Many women report daytime sleepiness during the first trimester of their pregnancy, when the body is hard at work forming the baby's various body systems. One way to combat fatigue is to try and fit in a quick nap at lunchtime whenever possible; eating small snacks frequently throughout the day also seems to help. By the second trimester, most women find they have as much energy as they had before becoming pregnant -- sometimes more.

    * Source: Suzanne Frank, The Hearst Corporation

    How does menopause affect sleep?

    Menopause and Sleep

    One of the harbingers of menopause is hot flashes -- hot, flushed feelings caused by a widening of blood vessels near the skin's surface and brought on by fluctuating levels of estrogen. Not surprisingly, these variations in body temperature can have a substantial impact on restful sleep. Most women keep up their regular routine despite the changes menopause brings, but you should talk to your doctor about various ways -- both pharmacological and natural -- to relieve discomforting symptoms.

    * Source: Suzanne Frank, The Hearst Corporation

    What happens during paradoxical (REM) sleep?

    Paradoxical (REM) Sleep

    Paradoxical sleep is marked by irregular breathing and heart rate, increased blood supply to the brain and increased brain temperature. Most of the muscles are relaxed. There are various jerky movements of the body and face, including short bursts of rapid eye movements (REMs) which occur behind the closed eyelids. Overall, about one-quarter of our sleep is of the paradoxical kind.

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