Healthy sleep habits can put you on the right path for 2020

Sleep expert Mathew Walker explains practical tips for getting more sleep and how much rest we really need.
3:55 | 01/11/20

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Transcript for Healthy sleep habits can put you on the right path for 2020
lovely in the spring. Love that. It's crunch time for new year's resolutions and one healthy habit that often doesn't get enough attention is sleep. I know I struggle with this mightily. For my ten percent happier podcast, I interviewed one of the world's leading sleep experts who has sobering news about how much sleep we really need and some practical tips for getting more of it. It's a scene that plays out in millions of homes across America, attempting to capture that elusive yet essential good night sleep. If we don't get enough sleep, what happens? There is no single tissue within the body nor process of the mind that isn't demonstrably impaired when we don't get enough. Reporter: Matthew walker, author of "Why we sleep" says sleep deprivation can be bad for your mood, immune system, memory and much more. But he says it's never too late to start getting the minimum of seven to eight hours a night that most of us need. So what can you do? To start cut back on screen time. We need darkness at night to trigger the release of the hormone melatonin, which tells our body it's time for bed. Also important for good sleep hygiene, a consistent schedule. The regularity is king in that sense. It really anchors your sleep and sort of can improve the quantity and the quality of that sleep. But you're asking people to fundamentally change their social lives. Some of it may require a change in social life. But, yeah, the shorter your sleep the shorter your life. So I ordered an aura ring to track my sleep. This little device stays on you at night. It can track your body temperature, your body movements and -- wait till the cat wakes you up. Okay, so I'm looking at the app first thing in the morning and I didn't do great last night. It says I got 4 hours and 39 minutes of sleep. This wasn't an isolated problem. The wore the ring for several weeks and found that even though I was spending about eight hours in bed I was actually only sleeping for about 80% of that time. So I checked back in with Dr. Walker during a recording at my podcast. If I live the rest of my life with those numbers unchanged, would I be in real risk? What we know is that usually relative to groups that are getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, risks for things like cardiovascular disease together with cancer and Alzheimer's disease, those things typically start to increase once you start to go lower than those amounts. Again, a minimum of seven hours, he said. This is sobering stuff. But as Dr. Walker said -- and this is the good news -- you can make changes to boost sleep. So here are some tips. One is keep your bedroom cool. This is really important. Actually Diane Macedo, one of our colleagues, got me to buy this thing -- I think you have one too. The chilly pad that keeps the mattress cool, but the room should be around 67 degrees because the body temperature needs to go down in order to sleep. Cut back on screen time. This is huge. We touch on this in the piece but you should stay away from your screens for at least an hour before you go to bed. Three, if you're restless before you go to bed which is a big problem, stretching and/or using a foam roller can be really effective. I like the foam roller idea. That's different. Yes. And, four, ditch the night cap. Some people think having a drink before bed is a nice way to wind down, but alcohol is a sedative and sleep is different than sedation. So it's really important not to drink either alcohol or caffeine and caffeine stays in your body for a long time, so you don't want to be drinking that later in the day. And don't forget you can hear much more from Dr. Walker on my podcast ten percent happier which is available wherever you get your podcast. All great tips. That ring, did you call it your precious? No? It's not so precious, man. The news was bad. I feel like Smigel sometimes when I don't get enough sleep. I feel like that. I got to work on it. Great information, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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