60 Second Guide
Think you can learn to survive on less than six hours of sleep a night? Think again. Getting just two to three hours too little sleep for a few nights can have the same effect as pulling an all-nighter, yet it's something that many Americans routinely do. Adults typically need seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night to function at their best. So we've rounded up some sound advice for getting to sleep fast and getting the most out of your time in bed.
"Sleep is actually the best diet there is," says James B. Maas, Ph.D., author of Sleep for Success. "Research shows that if you sleep just one extra hour a night, you can lose a pound a week." Those are big claims, but according to a University of Colorado study, sleep-deprived subjects regularly ate more calories than those who got ample shuteye. This is because lack of sleep effects appetite-controlling hormones. Plus, staying up late just offers more time to snack.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, light is a powerful cue that sends wake-up messages to the brain, suppressing the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and making it harder to fall (and stay) asleep. They suggest surveying your room for sources of artificial light, from outside street lamps to the glow from the power buttons from electronics and eliminating them by blocking them from your view.