Dr. Robert Basner, the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York-Presyberian Hospital/Columbia shared some tips with The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen on how to get the right amount of sleep.
Asked what some of the worst sleeping habits are that he sees in people, Dr. Basner says, "I think the most important thing is that they don't think sleep is important enough to protect and to preserve and to reserve. So they take it very casually. They do other things instead of sleeping. They stay up too late. So you need to be regular. Can't be up a long time one night, go to bed early the next night. That doesn't work. Like any other bodily function, being regular is very important. I think that's the most important thing. They sacrifice sleep for other things. And they are not regular about it. And, of course, we've talked about before the problem of using the bed for doing other things except sleeping. So people train themselves to stay awake in bed reading, watching television, balancing the checkbook. You shouldn't do that," he says.
"So don't read or watch television in bed?" Chen asks.
"Well, if it helps you fall asleep and you can do it within 10 or 15 minutes, that's fine, if that's your routine," Basner explains. "Twenty minutes is about as long as you should be laying in bed awake. If it's more than 20 minutes, you really shouldn't be in bed anymore and actually if you find yourself wakeful, you should get out of bed because you are training yourself to be awake in that situation."
Basner also says people should avoid certain things, like caffeine and alcohol.
Though alcohol is a sedative and will knock you out, Basner says it withdraws very quickly and affects your metabolism to the point that sleep gets worse. "You could have nightmares, insomnia. If you are going to drink in the evening, drink earlier. Hours before you go to bed," he recommends.
If you drink alcohol, you should stop three to four hours before bedtime.
As far as food is concerned, Basner also has advice: "It's individual but don't you feel pretty bad if you go to sleep on a full stomach. You have to metabolize the food in the stomach. The blood is all there. You are spending time metabolizing and you can have reflux, which is a dangerous thing but certainly sleep fragmenting."
Finally, Basner urges people to take their seriously. "Find out how much you need. We were talking before – some people need only five or six hours of sleep to feel fully functional and rested. Some need nine or ten. You should know what's best for you. Don't covet your neighbor's sleep, basically. Be regular."