Ask any parent about their baby’s nighttime habits, and you will likely hear a tale of feeding and diaper changes in the dark and desperate efforts to encourage the child to fall asleep. The common refrain of “sleep like a baby” only makes sense in the context of looking adorable while cuddled up for a nap.

No adult wants to sleep like a baby.

Physical wellness: Make Better Sleep a Priority

The Critical Role of Sleep

Adults need a solid 7-9 hours of rest a night, uninterrupted, with several complete cycles that include non-REM and REM sleep. (1) Resting is as critical as food and water, and lack of rest impacts every body system. (2) Chronically getting insufficient rest increases disease risk and negatively impacts cognition and productivity. (2)

Going too long without enough rest could lead the body to begin micro sleeping, where a person may appear awake, but the body is actually sleeping in short few second long bursts. (3) This is involuntary and can be especially dangerous while driving or at a job where focus is essential to safety.

As critical as rest is to our health, only 1 in 3 adults gets enough of it. (4)

Adults with Enough Sleep


Make Better Sleep a Priority

Getting adequate rest allows us to feel energized, productive and engaged in our lives. It also protects our health and improves our mood. Everything in life feels better after a good night’s slumber.

Many factors can make this difficult, so it’s necessary to do things that protect and improve your chances of getting the hours you need.

Stick to a Routine

Your bedtime habits are just that, habits. Like any other habit, you train your body to respond to specific cues like when to feel sleepy or alert.

Getting up at the same time each day (yes, weekends too) is one of the first steps to a good night’s rest. Having a routine at night that includes soothing practices such as light reading, a bath, or soft music, will create signals that it’s time for bed. Doing these practices every day will train your body and brain to be asleep when you need to.

Ditch the screens to get a full night's rest

Ditch the Screens

Going straight from looking at a screen to trying to fall asleep is a poor nighttime habit. Screens significantly decrease the quality and ease of falling asleep by increasing alertness and delaying the release of melatonin, the hormone that signals your body it’s time for bed. (4)

The best practice is to avoid screen use in the hours leading up to bedtime. If that is not practical, at a minimum, make sure your pre-bed routine is screen-free. The bedroom should also be a screen-free zone as having a TV, or your phone in your room can reduce both the quantity and quality of rest. (5)

Be Careful What You Drink

Caffeine and alcohol both negatively impact sleep quality.

Caffeine is a stimulant, and as such, it interrupts the hormone cycle that allows for uninterrupted rest. Consuming coffee or tea as much as six hours before bed will decrease sleep quality. (6) This leads to a cycle of bedtime disruption, which requires more coffee because sleeping was poor, making rest poor, and thus requiring more coffee.

To break this cycle, start cutting off caffeine consumption a little earlier each day until you get to a cut-off of 8-9 hours before bed.

Alcohol too is a sleep disruptor. While many people appreciate the relaxing effect of alcohol as an aid in falling asleep, in reality, alcohol interferes with normal sleep rhythm. A drink before bed results in a less restful night. (6) Ideally, alcohol should be avoided at night or limited to only a few times a week.

Sleeping Better Lets Us Live Better

We’ve all experienced what it feels like to wake up after a poor night’s rest and then struggle to get through the day. Conversely, we’ve all experienced the energy and vitality a good slumber provides. Our outlook and productivity are much higher when we’ve had the rest we need.

Sleeping well is one of the best wellness practices available.