long as one wakes feeling refreshed and well rested, say the
experts, there is no required amount of sleep. While
the average adult does best with seven to seven-and-a-half hours
of sleep a night, the normal range is from four to ten hours.
For those who would like to improve their sleep, researchers
give these tips:
Avoid caffeinated beverages after noontime. Limit total consumption
to two or fewer cups per day.
Do not drink alcoholic beverages in the evening, because alcohol
lightens and fragments sleep.
Do not smoke just before bedtime or during the night, because
nicotine can disturb sleep.
Exercise regularly during the day, but do not exercise within
three hours of going to bed.
Maintain a regular bedtime and awakening time. Get out of bed
at the regular time even if sleep was poor, as sleeping in can
disrupt sleep the following night.
Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Try to screen out any disturbing
noise or light. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom.
Establish a relaxing routine in preparation for sleep. Engaging
in frustrating activities or excessive worry close to bedtime
may cause anxiety and prevent sleep.
Do not use the bed or bedroom for anything other than sleep
or sexual activities. If the bedroom is used for non-sleep activities
such as balancing the checkbook or watching TV, it becomes a
stimulus for alertness, not sleep.
Avoid routine use of melatonin (an over-the-counter sleep aid)
for treating sleep problems.
If sleep problems persist, ask your health-care provider about
a referral to a sleep-disorders center.
from Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, third