Getting good quality sleep can help you feel like your best self. Healthy sleep patterns improve learning, memory, creativity, and mood. Healthy sleep also strengthens the immune system and makes it easier to maintain a healthy diet.
In this day and age, with so many things that add stress to our lives, getting a good night’s sleep can be very challenging. If you aren’t getting healthy sleep, you might feel slow, foggy, depressed, and have low-energy. You’re also more prone to getting sick, and you are more likely to not make the best decisions about health such as not wanting to exercise or not caring about eating well.
Sometimes, it is obvious when you are not sleeping well. In other cases, poor sleep and its adverse effects accumulate gradually, so it’s possible to become accustomed to them without recognizing the impact they are having on your health and life.
Getting a healthy amount of sleep is a key part of a good sleep pattern. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night and that older adults over 65 years of age get between 7 and 8 hours. The rapid growth and development of youth means that children need additional hours of sleep, with specific recommendations varying by age. Babies might need up to 17 hours per night, while the range for teens is 8 to 10 hours.
Is Your Sleep Healthy?
In addition to evaluating your nightly experience of sleep in terms of duration, continuity, and timing, there are numerous short-term and long-term benefits to healthy sleep. Below are some daytime indicators11 that you have established a healthy sleep pattern:
- Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning
- Having lots of energy during the day
- Being in a good mood
- Feeling clear-headed
On the other hand, a sleep pattern that isn’t healthy comes with characteristic indicators as well. If you’re chronically sleep-deprived, or if the quality of your sleep each night is poor, you might show certain symptoms, such as the following:
- Having trouble getting up in the morning
- Struggling to focus
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- Feeling sleepy during the day or needing to schedule daytime naps
- Sleeping much longer or later on unstructured days
If one or more of these signs sounds like you, start by examining your sleep hygiene practices to see whether you can promote better sleep by changing your environment, adjusting your daily activities, and establishing a bedtime routine.
Take a step back and consider your sleep habits and your nightly experience of sleep. Not only does healthy sleep requires successfully sleeping for a certain number of hours, it also means getting quality, uninterrupted sleep over the course of those hours and doing so with consistency.