You need more sleep. Most of us do. Seven to nine solid hours is what experts recommend, yet about 60 percent of Americans report having sleep troubles almost every night, according to this year’s National Sleep Foundation poll.
The right amount of rest gives you more energy, better immunity and reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes and, studies show, obesity and dementia. Here are three more reasons to aim for seven to nine hours:
You’ll look better: That’s right — there’s science to support the idea of beauty sleep. Swedish researchers photographed 23 adults on two occasions, once after normal sleep and once after less sleep; then a group of observers rated the faces and concluded that the sleepy people looked less attractive, less healthy and (obviously) more tired.
You’ll drive safer: About one in 10 adults admit they get behind the wheel feeling sleepy once or twice a week, according to a recent poll. And the potential effects are sobering: Drowsy driving causes an estimated 100,000 accidents each year and about one in six deadly crashes. Almost 60 percent of drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving said they had been on the road for less than an hour. If you have a hard time focusing, if you’re blinking or yawning frequently, you drift or swerve, miss exits or can’t remember the last few miles you drove, pull over.
You’ll fight less: When wives can’t fall asleep, it triggers significantly more negative interactions with their spouses the next day, suggests preliminary research presented at a sleep conference. When husbands slept poorly, on the other hand, there was little difference in how the couples related. Why? Researchers suspect that women who have sleep problems are more likely to express stress, be irritable and verbalize their feelings.
Three Sleep-Better Tips
1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends)
2. Make your bedroom sleep-friendly: comfortable, dark, cool and quiet.
3. Relax before bed: take a warm bath, read a book, or listen to soothing music.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.