Getting a good night’s sleep might not sound too difficult, but two-thirds of the world’s population struggles to achieve this goal.
“We are not taught how to sleep well. And people don’t have any respect for good sleep. They think that it’s a waste of time, and therefore, they stay up all night, studying or working or partying,” said Antonio Culebras, professor of neurology at Upstate University Hospital.
Today is World Sleep Day, an annual event organized by the World Association of Sleep Medicine which aims to raise awareness about sleep disorders and promote healthier sleep habits for everyone. High quality sleep is long, seamless and deep enough for the person to feel well-rested and alert the next day, said Culebras, who is co-chair of this year’s event.
Poor sleep practices can contribute to long- and short-term health problems, he said. It can hinder concentration, mood and social functioning. It can also raise the risk of chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes, according to the organization.
A person’s lack of sleep can hurt others, as well. About 1,000 people die each year in car crashes caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel, Culebras said, adding that these deaths could easily be prevented.
He points to the 10 commandments for a good night’s sleep, as listed on the World Association of Sleep Medicine's website:
1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.