Do you ever wish that you could go to sleep shortly after you put your kids to bed?
Maybe you should.
Early bedtimes don’t have to be just for kids. Actress Melissa McCarthy, 48, has one.
“You bring it real down, you don’t do anything fun, and you go to bed at 7:30 — that’s the trick,” McCarthy told Extra.
Getting enough sleep, studies show, also can help prevent illness.
More than a third of U.S. adults are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, heart disease, and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 10 p.m. bedtime was easy for Meghan May, 31, of Narberth, to stick to.
“I’m the kind of person who, if I don’t get eight to nine hours of sleep, I feel like a zombie the next day and don’t function well,” she said. Now, she finds she’s almost always already up when her alarm goes off at 6 a.m.
“I know there are other people who can stay up a lot later, I just choose not to,” said May, a systems analyst for a health-care system.
The sleep need changes throughout life, said Anita Ko, a sleep specialist and assistant professor at the Drexel University College of Medicine.
“Once you hit your 20s, it decreases because we are no longer getting taller,” she said.
Growing children need more sleep for their rapid physical and mental development. It is recommended that newborns get 14 to 17 hours, school age children 9 to 11 hours, and teens about eight to 10 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Typically, most people need six to eight hours, Ko said. People need to listen to their bodies to figure out their needs. At 100, someone may need four to six hours at a stretch, but they may take more naps, she said.
For Margaret Muhly, 43, of Bala Cynwyd, eight hours of sleep a night is a must. The busy mother of two goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., about the same time as her kids.
“But I get up at 4:30 a.m.,” she said. Muhly is out the door by 5 a.m. and headed to the gym for a three-hour workout (she’s a triathlete) and then on to her job as a social worker.
Muhly has never been a night person. Even in high school she worked every Saturday at the Lancaster Farmer’s Market in Wayne, pouring coffee at 5 a.m. rather than taking late-night babysitting gigs.
She is flexible when there are late-night sports practices for her kids when her husband is unavailable or when meeting up with friends. But she won’t stay up to fold laundry or watch television, she said.
“I’ll give that up but I try not to give up the sleep,” she said.
In a 2014 survey, the National Sleep Foundation found that Americans average seven hours and 36 minutes of sleep a night.
On work nights, those surveyed reported going to sleep about 11 p.m. and getting up just after 6:30 a.m. On weekends, they tended to grab 40 more minutes of sleep, on average. Adults aged 18 to 29 went to sleep the latest, according to the foundation.
Sixty-five percent of those surveyed reported either excellent, very good or good quality sleep, compared with 23 percent who had only a fair night’s sleep, and 12 percent who complained of poor sleep.
For some, there is no escaping the 24/7/365 American lifestyle.
Shift workers such as police, firefighters, nurses, retail workers – especially those on the graveyard shift – may have difficulty getting a continuous eight hours of sleep, Ko said.
“Employers should recognize that people need to take care of themselves and make accommodations,” she said.
Here are some tips to ensure a good night’s sleep, according to Ko:
“Dim the lights before bed,” Ko said, recommending about an hour’s wind-down time away from bright lights, phones and computers. That pause gives the body a chance to relax and increase levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Mario Valori, 59, of Sewell, Gloucester County, sets an evening alarm at 9 p.m. as a reminder to wind down and head to bed.
A couple of years ago, the self-employed financial coach found himself at 290 pounds. He decided to commit to lifestyle changes that included getting more sleep, at least seven hours a night.
He ultimately lost more than 75 pounds and is now competing in triathlons.
Valori gets up about 4 a.m. for a daily devotion followed by his morning workout.
“I look forward to waking,” said Valori, who monitors his sleep stages using a Garmin watch to make sure he is getting high-quality sleep.