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8 things you need to know about sleep

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Woman asleep on train
A woman slept as she rode the Subway "A" line on October 24, 2014 in New York City.
Kena Betancur | Getty Images

The National Sleep Foundation recently released new age-based recommendations for the amount of sleep needed each night. 

Sleep experts — Dr. Imran Khawaja of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at HCMC and Lauren Hale of the National Sleep Foundation journal Sleep Health — joined MPR News to talk about the latest research and tips for getting a better night's rest.  

8 things you need to know about sleep

1. Here are the latest sleep recommendations by age:

• Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18). 
• Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15). 
• Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14). 
• Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13). 
• School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11). 
• Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5). 
• Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category). 
• Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours. 
• Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category). 

2. If your alarm clock is waking you from a deep sleep every morning, you're not getting enough sleep, Khawaja said. Modify your sleep schedule so you feel well rested and ideally wake without an alarm.

3. Nighttime routines are important for children and adults, Hale said. "Hopefully your child will learn that he or she will also feel better and be happier when rested," she said. 

4. Everyone should limit screen time, especially one hour before sleep. The BBC reported on a new study about teens and screens in BMJ Open:

When daytime screen use totaled four or more hours, teens had a 49% greater risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep. These teens also tended to get less than five hours of sleep per night.

A caller suggested light-blocking glasses that filter out blue light. These are helpful for some people because blue light inhibits the body's creation of melatonin. 

5. Jet lag? Try melatonin. Khawaja said melatonin supplements work best for people who are trying to readjust their sleep schedules. 

6. Try to exercise during the day and outside, Hale said. You don't have to worry about the exercise disturbing your sleep and the added time in sunlight will help you stay alert. 

7. Consider sleep health as part of an overall wellness goal. Khawaja said if you simply focus on getting better sleep, but you have a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, you won't improve your sleep. You need to consider it part of an overall healthy lifestyle to get quality sleep. 

8. Sleep deprivation disparity is a public health issue, Hale said. She discussed the topic in a TEDx talk:

What advice would you give to someone trying to get better sleep? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.