In the United States, it is considered that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. Sleep disorders occur in both men and women; however, essential differences in prevalence and severity of specific sleep disorders have been known in minorities and under-served populations.
Good sleep promotes good health
Sleep represents a third of every person’s life, and it has a massive impact on how we live, function and perform during the other two-thirds of our lives. It is as vital as the air we breathe and the food we consume, especially for those with chronic diseases or compromised immune systems.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleep is crucial for a person’s health and wellbeing. There are millions of people who do not get enough sleep. Getting enough quality rest at the regular hours can help defend your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Sleep also maintains healthy growth and development. Our immune system always depends on sleep to stay efficient. This system protects your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can alter the way in which your immune system reacts.
Importance of Sleep
Sleep performs an necessary role in your physical health. Sleep is meant to heal and repair your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is connected to an increase the risk of heart failure, kidney disease, high blood ranges, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deficiency also leads to a potential risk of obesity. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry.
Healthy Brain Function
Sleep helps your brain work well. While you’re sleeping, your mind is getting ready for the next day. It’s making new pathways to develop your learning and remember information. Studies have shown that a good sleep at night improves learning. Studies also show that sleep deficiency changes activity in some parts of the brain. If you have lack of sleep, you may have trouble making decisions, solving dilemmas, managing your emotions and behavior, and adapting to change. Sleep deficiency also has been associated with depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.
How many hours sleep do I need?
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multidisciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations. The report recommends broader proper sleep ranges for most age groups.
The panel revised the recommended sleep ranges for all six children and teenage groups. A summary of the new recommendations includes:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range extended by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range extended by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range extended by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
Is it always the same?
The answer is YES, as much as possible. But it can be challenging to get enough sleep between work, family and the rest of your lifestyle. Fortunately, our body has natural systems in place to make sure that we get a good night’s sleep. Working with our body rhythms can contribute to developing a good sleep routine and enjoying the benefits.
Getting enough good sleep has been shown to enhance your memory, mood, concentration and energy levels, as well as managing with weight control, immunity and even increase your lifespan.
According to Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein from a 2007 published book Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep which discussed strategies to achieve adequate sleep. He recommends a variety of measures to help adults and children produce sufficient sleep. In general, all of these approaches are designed to assist with relaxation as the desired sleep time approaches, to sustain a comfortable sleep environment, and to foster a healthful balance of nutrition and exercise.
Their recommendations include the following:
- Maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule
- To avoid too much caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
- To make your bedroom a comfortable sleep atmosphere
- Setting a calming pre-sleep routine
- Sleep when you’re exhausted
- Avoid watching the clock at night
- Utilizing light to your advantage by exposing yourself to light during the day and limiting light exposure in the evening
- Avoid taking a nap too close to your regular bedtime
- Eating and drinking plenty—but not too much or too soon before bedtime
- Exercising daily—but not too soon before bedtime
In America, 70% of adults report that they obtained poor sleep at least one night a month, and 11% say poor sleep every night. Each day, millions of Americans experience daytime sleepiness and exhaustion resulting from sleep disorders. Sleep plays a role in good health and well-being throughout our lives. How much sleep you need to stay healthy, alert, and active varies, depending on our age. Most adults require at least seven or more hours of sleep every night. If you are suffering from frequent wakings in the middle of the night, having a hard time falling asleep, or waking up feeling like you never slept at all, you may need to see a physician to look into the benefits of a treatment plan.