Sleep is a rare luxury for a lot of us, and that’s causing us real problems. The CDC says about 1 out of 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep. So good chance you’re nodding your head as you read this now. Worldwide, half of the population reports not getting enough sleep. Japan and South Korea top the list in Asia. Australians do pretty well.

Enough facts and trivia, though. Let’s look at some common sleep problems and ways you can sleep better.

The Nap Problem
You stayed up late last night but got up early, anyway. But your couch or bed is tempting you midday for a little nap. Aren’t naps supposed to be healthy, you think to yourself? I could just lay down for ten minutes and then… Suddenly, you wake up and realize you’ve been asleep for three hours.

Naps are healthy sometimes and often the only alternative for busy people, but they can make your sleep irregular. After a nap which has gone on a little too long, you’ll be tempted to stay up later, then you still have to wake up on time…then you begin the cycle again. Try to keep naps short. And let them give you an excuse to go to sleep later.

Irregular Sleep-Wake Syndrome
This is a relatively rare condition. People with Irregular Sleep-Wake Syndrome sleep around four hours or even less at a time. They end up sleeping several times within a twenty-four-hour cycle.

If you work night shifts or travel internationally, you might have some symptoms, but if it doesn’t persist, you don’t have to worry.

Other Sleep Problems
Especially if you’re working from home now during the pandemic, you might not have a definite start time to your day. A lot of us who work from home, can get up, check some emails, do a little work, and then make up for lost sleep without our boss knowing we’re taking a nap. This can lead to thinking you can get away with less sleep at night.

The problem is that your body wants you to sleep between 7-9 hours. It needs this time to rest and repair itself.

How to Fix Sleep Schedules
If you’re experiencing prolonged periods of only sleeping a few hours a night, you should check with your doctor as it could be a serious situation. For the rest of us, there are simple ways to sleep better.

1. Choose a regular time to wake up and fall asleep and stick to it.
2. Cut down on caffeine for a while.
3. Try meditation before sleeping.
4. Use earplugs or night blinders if you are on a strange sleeping schedule.
5. Get moderate exercise, three to five times a week, during the day.

With these sleep hygiene tips, you should be on your way to a restful and regular sleep schedule soon enough.