How to Sleep Better
Regular, sound slumber is the holy grail of good health. Here are five new ways to achieve it.
Short on sleep? Join the club. One in three adults doesn’t get the minimum suggested seven hours a night, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But
simply recognizing the problem isn’t enough: Of the Americans
who admitted that they don’t catch enough z’s, less than half were doing anything about it, as reported in a recent survey from the Better Sleep Council, a consumer education group.
“Society views sleep as something that can be sacrificed,” says Patrick M. Fuller, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Consistent, good sleep is essential for your physical, emotional, and neurocognitive health. Yet we prioritize work, social media, and TV time over it.” Even when we do power down, lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, and health conditions, including menopause, can upend our plans for peaceful slumber.
The result, Fuller believes, is a “modern-day health crisis.” Indeed, it seems that every month,
a new malady is being blamed on poor sleep, including heart disease, inflammation, depression, and
compromised immune function. Our day-to-day activities suffer, too. “Research shows that we make three times more mental errors after a few nights of less-than-
optimal sleep,” says W. Christopher Winter, M.D., the medical director of the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, in Charlottesville, Virginia. “Maybe that little fender bender you got in could have been avoided if
you had gone to bed an hour earlier last night.”
In response to an increasingly exhausted population, innovators across all industries have been developing advances that aim to help us zonk
out quickly, snooze soundly, and wake up energized. Read on for five research-backed strategies to enhance your sleep, plus the latest high-tech and low-tech ways of putting each tip into effect.