While many of us with busy lifestyles may look at proper sleep as an afterthought, sleep is actually extremely important to our overall health as well as daily functioning.
If you get the right amount of sleep, you can avoid many health conditions along with improving your wakefulness at work and school.
How much sleep do I need?
The amount of sleep you need decreases with age; however, a significant amount of adults still do not get the sleep they need. Adults over 18 years of age need 7-9 hours per night, while teenagers need 9-10 hours. Children should get 10-11 hours of sleep per night.
What conditions can I avoid with proper sleep?
With proper sleeping habits, you can reduce your chance of getting many debilitating health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, breast cancer, breathing issues, and psychological disorders. Getting the right amount of sleep also reduces your chances of suffering from stroke, obesity, and high blood pressure.
What are the dangers of sleep deprivation?
Along with the health issues it can cause, deprivation comes with many dangerous consequences for your daily functioning.
If you do not get enough sleep, you will see signs of reduced alertness, more stress, a larger appetite, and even cognitive impairment. In fact, if you get just 90 minutes more sleep each night, you will increase your alertness during the day by 32%.
Especially dangerous are incidences of drowsy driving. If you have been awake for 18 hours, you will have cognitive impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. After 24 hours, this rises to a BAC of 0.10%, which is above the legal limit for drinking and driving. About 100,000 car crashes are caused every year by sleep deprivation when driving.
Who else has sleep problems?
Studies show that 1/3 of all Americans achieve less than 7 hours of sleep every night. If you suffer from sleep problems, you are not alone. 12-18 million adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea, 70% of students in high school do not get enough sleep, and 1/3 of adults are consistently sleeping during the day, leading to $50 billion in productivity lost. In addition, 5000-6000 fatal car crashes are linked to sleep deprivation every year.
How can I sleep better?
If you have sleep problems, do not despair. There are numerous ways to get your sleep schedule back on track. Discuss natural options such as melatonin, kava, valerian, and chamomile tea with your doctor.
You should also try getting more exercise, decreasing stress, lowering alcohol and caffeine intake, and cutting out cigarettes as well as medications that cause you to be awake.
Furthermore, experts suggest that “sleep hygiene” should be maintained. This means adhering to a routine sleep schedule; not taking naps; and resting in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment. In addition, you should not partake in stressful activities or exercise within two hours of bedtime. You should, however, practice relaxation before bed, such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.
Looking for more information about the health benefits of proper sleep? Check out this infographic!