Proper sleep is much more important to our lives than many of us think. Not getting enough sleep is the cause of several health problems especially when combined with other unhealthy behaviors or ways of life; such as being overweight, obesity, drinking too much alcohol, and a poor diet. Not to mention prescription or recreational drug addiction.
Without proper sleep both our mental and physical health is adversely affected. Not only by the amount of sleep we get but the quality level of a person’s sleep is vital too. These days we are so busy and running around from place to place taking care of business that sleep takes a backseat to things like working two or three jobs, an active social life, depression, and or insomnia. Add to that the stresses of everyday life along with most of us being “plugged in” 24 hours a day and sleep is not high on the to-do list.
The amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount of sleep you can get by on are entirely different. Many of us can get by on five to six hours of sleep per night while functioning, all be it not to the best of our potential however still functioning throughout the day.
Understanding your nightly sleep needs is essential to having a high quality of life not leaving you in a bad mood and more prone to the effects of stress and even depression. Not getting the right amount of quality sleep will negatively affect productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, creativity, vitality, the immune system, your weight, while also enhancing inflammation speeding up the aging process.
According to Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, they discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to do well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult gets less than seven hours of sleep a night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. However, realistically it’s a will eventually leave you with chronic sleep deprivation. Frankly, it proves to be more beneficial to spend that extra hour or so sleeping and you will be able to accomplish more and probably at a higher level than if you skimped out on sleep.
Although everyone is different and needs different levels of sleep adults should shoot for the seven to nine hour range.
Are you feeling the effects of not getting proper sleep during your day?
Here are signs that you are not getting the proper amount of sleep.
Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
Using the snooze button
Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
Feeling sluggish in the afternoon
Being sleepy at meetings, in lectures, or warmer areas of a building
Being drowsy after heavy meals or while driving
Need a nap every day
Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed
Being sleep deprived affects your reaction time and coordination which can lead to car accidents on your daily trek to and from the office. It also affects your judgment which can lead to bad personal relationships and even losing your job. Sleep deprivation can basically have the effects of being drunk at times.
Problems arising from sleep deprivation include:
Fatigue, being lethargic, and unmotivated
Moodiness and being irritable, while having an increased risk of depression
Lack of sex drive; relationship problems
Limited or slowed brain activity, learning, concentration, and memory problems
Less problem-solving skills, creativity, and difficulty making decisions
Inability to cope with stress, difficulty managing emotions
Accelerated skin aging
Weakened immune system, frequent colds, and infections, weight gain
Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents, hallucinating, and delirium
Increased risk of serious health problems including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers
Chart for Proper Sleep increments:
Courtesy of the National Sleep Foundation
|Age||Hours Needed||May be appropriate|
|Newborn to 3 months old||14 – 17 hrs||11 – 19 hrs|
|4 to 11 months old||12 – 15 hrs||10 – 18 hrs|
|1 to 2 years old||11 – 14 hrs||9 – 16 hrs|
|3 to 5 years old||10 – 13 hrs||8 – 14 hrs|
|6 to 13 years old||9 – 11 hrs||7 – 12 hrs|
|14 to 17 years old||8 – 10 hrs||7 – 11 hrs|
|Young adults (18 to 25 years old)||7 – 9 hrs||6 – 11 hrs|
|Adults (26 to 64 years old)||7 – 9 hrs||6 – 10 hrs|
|Older adults (65+)||7 – 8 hrs||5 – 9 hrs|
How to get the proper sleep your body needs
Make sure you have a steady sleep routine by training your body when to sleep and wake up consistently. Also, power down your devices. Most people use their phones as an alarm clock, but it’s best to get a regular alarm clock that only lights up when you press the light button. If you like to have a clock you can see at all times choose one with the red light. However, the darker the sleeping environment the better; especially for light sleepers. Basically, use the bedroom only for sleep and sex, don’t have a TV in there. Don’t drink caffeine after 3 or 5 pm depending on your rise time and limit your alcohol intake. Getting regular exercise greatly improves your sleep, however, try to do it as early in the day as possible. Take a warm bath, or shower before bed. Also start a meditation routine, doing so for 15 minutes a day, especially before bedtime, will promote high-quality sleep.