Sleep Matters 


The importance of sleep and how it impacts wellbeing
By Ruth Mendelson, MSW, LCSW

Photo by Ruel Madelo from Pexels

It is no surprise to most of us that good sleep plays an essential role in our physical and mental health. We are used to hearing expressions like “Have a good night’s sleep,” “Slept like a baby” or “They must have woken up on the wrong side of bed.” These common phrases exist for a reason. Our relationship with sleep and our sleep habits play a central role in our lives.

Let’s play a game.

Answer the following questions:

  • Where do you sleep?
  • How do you sleep?
  • When do you sleep?

Are the answers to these questions consistent? Do they change? Does stress or anxiety impact your sleep?

We are going to learn some facts and figures and then take a look at good sleep hygiene habits and strategies.

Facts and Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average adult aged 18-60 needs 7 or more hours of sleep a night, adults ages 60-64 need 7-9 hours and adults 65 + need 7-8 hours. The CDC also reports that one third of American adults say they get less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age. That is a significant amount of people.

The amount of sleep needed for a person changes as you age. This chart gives good insight into what typical hours of sleep should be based on your age.

Good sleep is not just about quantity of hours, it is about quality. If you have difficulty getting comfortable, if you have a hard time breathing, and or have frequent wake-ups, you are very likely not having refreshing, energizing and replenishing sleep.  It is important to know about common sleep disorders like:

  • Insomnia — difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Narcolepsy — excessive daytime sleepiness combined with excessive muscle weakness
  • Restless Leg Syndrome — unpleasant sensations (aches and pains in the legs)
  • Sleep Apnea — commonly interrupted non-restorative sleep

If you think you may be experiencing any of these disorders, it is a good idea to seek an evaluation from a healthcare professional. Click here for more information about these issues.

Sleep Hygiene

People often experience disruptions in their sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping in general due to changes in lifestyle, daily routine, and/or stress. Having good sleep hygiene is an important way to maintain good sleep (as much as possible).

Photo by Kendall Hoopes from Pexels

Here are some hints that might be helpful to maintain good sleep habits:

  1. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day (even weekends if possible)
  2. Try to exercise regularly (ANY kind of movement)
  3. Try to get exposure to sunlight and get outside (bright lights and fresh air can help)
  4. Evaluate the room where you sleep (What is the noise level? How is the lighting? How is the temperature?)
  5. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine (ex: read a book, listen to calming music, practice meditation)
  6. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you might want to avoid naps
  7. If you are experiencing high levels of stress and or anxiety, try to plan time to think about your concerns at another point in the day 
  8. Try not to go to bed too hungry or too full
  9. Try not to have caffeine too close to bedtime
  10. Try not to do work in bed

These are tips that may help you. Sleep and what impacts sleep can be very individualized, so don’t be alarmed if every tip isn’t equally effective. In general, the above mentioned pointers are good to assess if you are having difficulty sleeping.

Sleep and Wellbeing

It is really important to pay attention to your sleep habits and patterns. In both directions, getting too much and too little sleep can be significant and can affect a person’s wellbeing.  Energy level, mood, decision making abilities and judgement can all be impacted by quality of sleep.

If you are concerned about your own sleeping habits or worried about the way sleep is being impacted for someone you care about, please reach out. A licensed therapist or counselor can support you with your concerns.


Ruth enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog.  She loves to cook, spend time outdoors and go to the beach (even when it’s cold outside).

Check out Ruth’s professional bio here!

EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.

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Next Steps & Resources

  • Are you ready to take your first step? Reach out to us.
  • Do you feel that you or your child or teen may benefit from counseling during this time? Take the first step.
  • Interested in online counseling? Learn more.
  • Learn more about sleep and its impact on your wellbeing
  • Mental Health and sleep