A better way to tell if you’re getting the sleep you need is to consider how you feel throughout the day. You mention that you usually get six or seven hours of sleep. Based on existing sleep research, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends healthy adults consistently get at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you wake in the morning feeling well-rested and able to function throughout the day, there’s probably no need to be concerned.
If, however, you have any of these symptoms, consider seeking medical evaluation: significant difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; frequent loud snoring; waking up with a gasping or choking sensation; breathing pauses in sleep; frequently waking up; waking in the morning after a full night’s sleep not feeling refreshed or with a headache; or often feeling sleepy during the day.
Some changes can improve your sleep. Try to maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule, and make sleep a priority. But don’t spend more than about eight hours in bed per day. Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit it to one or two servings. Exercise during the day, but try to do so at least six hours before you go to bed.
Take time to wind down before bed, and establish a daily bedtime routine. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Avoid excess alcohol use and heavy meals before bedtime. Remove electronics from your bedroom, and avoid looking at the clock. When you go to bed, wear comfortable clothing, and keep your surroundings dark, cool and quiet. If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do a boring activity until you become drowsy.
If you feel persistently sleepy, despite good sleep habits, or if you have other symptoms of sleep problems, make an appointment to see your health care provider. He or she can evaluate your situation and help you decide if a consultation with a sleep specialist may be useful.