You May Sleep Less Than You Think

Study: People Tend to Overestimate Their Sleep Time

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 15, 2007

Oct. 15, 2007 -- You may be sleeping for an hour less than you think.

That's according to a new sleep study of 2,113 adults aged 40 and older (average age: 67).

They reported sleeping for an average of seven hours on a typical night. But they actually slept for only six hours when they spent a night hooked up to a sleep-monitoring machine at home.

The morning after the sleep-monitoring experiment, participants still overestimated their previous night's sleep time by 16 minutes. But participants were correct in estimating that it took them 17 minutes to fall asleep, report Arizona State University's Graciela Silva, PhD, MPH, and colleagues.

Self-reported sleep time may not be accurate in other sleep studies, Silva's team concludes.

Their report appears in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Tips for Better Sleep

Want to improve your sleep? These sleep tips may help:

  1. Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.
  2. Don't use alcohol as a sleep aid.
  3. Relax before bedtime.
  4. Get regular exercise, but if it revs you up too much at night, exercise in the morning.
  5. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and comfortable.
  6. Don't go to bed hungry or after a heavy meal.
  7. Don't smoke. Nicotine can hamper sleep.
  8. If you nap, keep it short.
  9. Keep pets off your bed.
  10. Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed.

(How much sleep do you think you're getting each night? Talk about it on WebMD's Health Cafe message board.)

Show Sources

SOURCES: Silva, G. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Oct. 15, 2007; vol 3: pp 622-630. WebMD Feature: "10 Tips to Get Better Sleep." News release, American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

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