The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults aged 18 to 64, and 7 to 8 hours for those older than 65.
An article in the February/March 2017 issue of Neurology Now magazine about the importance of getting adequate sleep and its affects on the brain relates that sleep “allows the brain a chance to do some much-needed housekeeping”. According to Jennifer Rose Molano, MD, FAAN, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, when we’re sleeping, our brain’s glymphatic system clears waste products that clog the brain by releasing cerebrospinal fluid that flushes toxins out.
So, overall, what can we do to promote better sleep?
The 2012 journal Sleep stated that people – especially women – with insomnia who exercise in the morning rather than in the evening averaged 70 percent better sleep. Dr. Beth Malow, professor of neurology and director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Division at Vanderbilt University in Nashville reports that researchers speculate that morning exercise sets the body’s clock for a day of activity and a night of sleep.
Avoid afternoon caffeine after 3 PM, whether from coffee, caffeinated teas, dark chocolate, or diet drinks.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recommends eating a light dinner high in fiber and low in saturated fat.
Cool the bedroom temperature. If the room is too warm, it can interfere with the body’s natural temperature dip and promote restlessness throughout the night. Setting the thermostat around 68 degrees helps create an optimum atmosphere.
Avoid watching television, using the computer, reading a back-lit e-book, or using the telephone for 90 minutes before going to bed. The blue light emitted from an e-book suppresses melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. When lying wide awake or restless in bed for approximately 20 minutes, leave the bedroom and do another relaxing activity in another room such as reading or listening to soothing music until feeling sleepy again.
Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids that contain diphenhydramine and doxylamine. Older adults who regularly use these drugs show more memory problems and appear to have a higher risk of dementia, according to an Indiana University study published in JAMA Neurology last April. NEVER USE SOMEONE ELSE’S PRESCRIPTION SLEEP AID!