Are You Sleeping Enough? Health Gavel™

Are You Sleeping Enough?  Health Gavel™

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With the increased demands the world has put on us today, the majority of Americans find themselves sleeping less and less every night. While there may be many reasons for this lack of sleep such as work, technology, stress, kids, or just trading in sleep for leisure activities, one thing is for sure; not sleeping enough is not ok!

As our age changes, so does our need for sleep. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that infants receive about 18 hours of sleep per day, toddlers about 13 hours, children 10 hours, adolescents at least 9 hours and finally 8 hours every day for adults. While we are awake, our nerve cells are continuously active and become more or less “fatigued”. Sleep gives our body’s cells an opportunity to relieve themselves of waste as well as repair themselves. According to Dr. Michael J. Breus, reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as 1.5 hours for just one night could result in a 32% daytime alertness reduction. This, in turn, can lead to occupational injuries, decreased response time, difficulty completing daily activities and automobile accidents, just to name a few. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 deaths each year.

Sufficient sleep is now being recognized as one of the leading contributors in chronic disease prevention. Getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night can trigger or even accelerate diseases such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, memory loss, obesity and even depression. Children that don’t get enough sleep can suffer from fatigue, night-induced awakenings, a greater chance of attention disorders, possible peer-relation complexity and a decrease in classroom performance. On the flip side, children who slept more during the day and babies who had a set nap time over an extended period of time showed a longer attention span, more sociable behavior, and were overall less demanding. Additionally, good sleep positively affects neurological development as well as overall IQ and brain function.

There are many contributing factors that play into the ability to not only sleep enough, but sleep well. From environmental influences to physiological troubles, it is critical to evaluate your health and lifestyle to accommodate appropriate sleep. Sleep apnea, depression, excess caffeine and too much technology are just some examples of interfering factors.

In order to promote quality sleep, or “sleep hygiene”, there are some simple things you can do to get on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

-go to bed and wake up at similar times each during the week

- remove all gadgets and disruptive technology from the bedroom

-avoid large meals and excess caffeine before bedtime

-avoid rigorous physical exercise within a few hours before bed

-contact your healthcare provider for a sleep evaluation to help identify and target any “disorders” disrupting your sleepRemember that adequate rest improves our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system and moderate our emotions. Before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1880, people slept an average of 10 hours. Now, Americans are sleeping an overestimated 6.9 hours each night. “Sleep is not a luxury…it is a necessity”. Give it to your body the same way you would food and water!

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