Prioritizing Sleep Helps You Get More Of It

Why You Should Prioritize Sleep
Happy couple take time out to lie in and relax at the weekend after busy city life
Happy couple take time out to lie in and relax at the weekend after busy city life

People who make sleep a priority get more of it, according to a new survey from the National Sleep Foundation.

Of the 1,029 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who were polled, those who said they were either very or extremely motivated to get enough sleep reported sleeping for 36 more minutes a night than people who were less motivated to catch quality shut-eye. The most motivated sleepers logged 7.3 hours while others logged just 6.7 hours on the average night, according to the annual Sleep in America poll.

Just like paying attention to what we eat can help us make healthier choices in the kitchen, a little more mindfulness of our bedtime habits might help us develop healthier ones, Kristen Knutson, Sleep in America poll scholar at the NSF and sleep researcher and professor at the University of Chicago told The Huffington Post. "If you don't try, you're not going to get a good night's sleep."

Of course, it's not always easy. "Life gets in the way," Knutson said. But sticking as much as possible to a regular sleep and wake time can, over time, help your body become accustomed to a healthy bedtime routine. "If you don't even try, your sleep schedule may be very irregular or erratic," she said.

Here are some expert-approved strategies to help you establish your own nightly regimen.

Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post

This year's survey also investigated the effects of chronic pain on sleep, finding that while 65 percent of people with no pain reported good or very good sleep, just 46 percent of people with acute pain and 36 percent of people with chronic pain could say the same. People living with pain were also more likely to say factors like noise, light and bedroom temperature hampered their Zzs, suggesting that better sleep hygiene in the bedroom may lead to improvements specifically for people in pain.

For more on the findings from this year's Sleep in America poll, which kicks off the beginning of Sleep Awareness Week, visit the National Sleep Foundation.

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