For many people, being healthy means eating well and exercising regularly. But one part of the equation that’s often missing is adequate sleep each night. If you miss out on a good night’s sleep, you’ll not only feel drowsy the next day but you’ll also put your health at risk.

Why Sleep is So Important

Your body needs sleep, it is the cornerstone of your health! It gives your brain, organs and muscles a chance to recover from a lot of activity that occurred during the day.  Plus, it plays an important role in combating the symptoms of aging and healing.

Your heart and blood vessels are repaired during sleep. And adequate sleep is needed in order for you to pay attention, make good decisions and solve problems. It also makes you think creatively.

But it’s not just your physical wellbeing that’s at risk with lack of sleep. Your emotional health is in jeopardy as well. Lack of sleep is closely linked to depression and increased  irritability.

Another problem is how lack of sleep impacts your sex drive. One study of over 93,000 women found that the better a woman sleeps, the higher her sex drive is. And that goes for men as well – men with lack of sleep have much lower levels of testosterone, which in turn decreases their sex drive.

How to Improve Your Sleep

One of the best ways to get a restful night of sleep is to establish a routine—meaning that you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  This will set up your body’s “sleep clock.” If you do take naps, make sure they’re short ones, only 15-20 minutes, or you may not be able to fall asleep at night.

Other tips for getting quality sleep at night include spending more time in daylight. Exercise outdoors if you can, and expose yourself to as much daylight at work or at home as possible. Speaking of exercise, avoid it for at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Otherwise it’ll interfere with falling asleep.

Don’t look at a computer, TV or tablet screens for 2 hours prior to going to sleep. The blue light from these devices can disrupt your sleep or even prevent you from falling asleep. If you read before bed, use a lamp and a book instead of a device. Make sure your room is dark, sleep in a comfortable bed and keep the temperature of your bedroom on the cool side.

Don’t eat large meals or drink alcohol too close to bedtime. Both can mess up your sleep cycle. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you could try deep breathing, meditation or listening to soft music.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

There is no magic answer to how much sleep you need as every person is different. Listen to your body: if you wake up tired or you’re feeling tired during the day, you’re not getting enough sleep. Kids who are 3-5 years old need on average 10-13 hours of sleep each night. Children 6-13 need approximately 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers need around 8-9 hours.

Young adults and adults need on average 7-9 hours of shuteye every night. And older adults can usually get by with 7-8 hour per night. Follow these tips and you’ll get the sleep you need, wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day!