Soothing Slumber

Why sleep matters and how to get more of it

By Dawn Liles

In the not too distant past, people boasted about functioning on only three to four hours of sleep per night. The adage, “I’ll sleep when I die,” is still heard frequently. But experts warn that most people need much more rest than that to function optimally.

Dr. Nancy Behrens of Novant Health Sleep Medicine Ballantyne says, “People’s sleep requirements can vary, but most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep to feel rested. Chronically shortchanging your body and brain of sleep can have health consequences over time.”

According to Behrens, these consequences include daytime fatigue, poor functioning of the immune system, decreased performance and reaction times and depressed mood.

For people with occasional insomnia, Behrens suggests the following tips to fall, and stay, asleep.

Maintain a regular schedule.

Dim the lights before bed.

Keep the room cool, dark and quiet.

Do something mundane out of bed if you can’t sleep.

Have a relaxing bedtime routine.

Relax with mental exercises.

Eat a diet high in fiber and protein.

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