According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, however, balancing work, holiday shopping, family activities etc. can quickly impede on that valuable slumber. Not getting enough sleep can lead to sleepiness and lethargy, making it difficult to accomplish what is needed for the day.
Maintaining a proper amount of sleep can prevent and control chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. The CDC states that most adults report a sleeping problem one or more nights a week, including symptoms of sleep disorders like insomnia where it’s extremely difficult to fall asleep at all.
The National Institute of Health recommends the following number of sleep hours per person each night:
Newborns: 16-18 hours
Preschool age: 11-12 hours
School age: At least 10 hours
Teens: 9-10 hours
Adults/Seniors: 7-8 hours
Now, finding time for those 7-8 hours each day can be quite a challenge, however, consequences of poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation can lead to:
- Memory problems
- Weaker immune system/more likely to get sick
- Decreased pain tolerance
- Trouble focusing your eyes
- Cannot stop yawning
- Daydreaming/wandering thoughts
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving while experiencing fatigue or sleep deprivation is responsible for approximately 100,000 car accidents and 1550 deaths each year. Sleep deprivation also magnifies the effects of alcohol, making a fatigued person far more likely to become impaired than a well-rested one.
Figuring out how much sleep you need is dependent on your age, body type and daily activities. Studies have deduced that after mapping different individual’s sleep patterns, sleep needs vary dependent on the person. Someone of the same age and gender may function fine on 7 hours of sleep a night, while someone with the same characteristics may feel their best after a solid 9 hours.
“Sleep debt,” or the amount of time where the body should have slept but wasn’t able to, can be “paid off” with additional hours slept on days off or by going to bed an hour earlier each night. In addition, researchers from the National Sleep Foundation have found that oversleeping or sleeping too much can cause depression and other health problems as well, with an increase in morbidity and mortality after continuously sleeping more than 9 hours a night.
To better your quality of sleep and assure you get the best amount of sleep for your lifestyle, it’s important to follow these tips:
- Establish a continuous sleep schedule during the week and on weekends
- Practice a relaxing routine an hour before bed each night
- Create and maintain a comfortable sleeping environment
- Only use your bedroom for sleeping, keeping other distractions such as TV in other rooms
- Finish your daily food intake 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
- Avoid smoking cigarettes
Making sleep a priority can be one of the most important choices you make in your adult life. Extended sleep deprivation can cause sleepiness during the day, leg cramps or tingling, snoring, difficulty breathing during sleep or prolonged insomnia. If these symptoms persist, its recommended that you contact your primary care physician about sleep-related disorders etc.
Without proper sleep, the human body will slowly begin to break down as it doesn’t have the right amount of energy to perform all the tasks needed on a daily basis. Don’t compromise yourself or your immune system, especially during the winter! Know your body and know yourself. The right amount of sleep can make all the difference!