Sleep is a part of every individual’s normal routine. We sleep to get away from the stresses of everyday life. We sleep to calm our mind, body and spirit. Sleep is essential to maintain good emotional, physical and mental health.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
A report written by the National Institute of Health on Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation states
“the average basal sleep needs of adults is approximately 7 to 8 hours per night, and the optimal sleep duration for adolescents is 9 hours per night”.
The report indicates that adults, adolescents and children are not getting enough sleep. More than 13 million children are receiving insufficient sleep. The duration and quality of sleep people receive every night may dictate how they perform and act during the day.
What are the Consequences of Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation may result in many problems. Lack of sleep can lead to but are not limited in the following:
- Greater mortality risk
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Decreased performance and alertness
- Memory and cognitive impairment
- Immune function impairment
The cognitive process is greatly affected by lack of sleep. The ability to learn, concentrate, remember, reason and problem solve is impaired. If you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned the day before. As you sleep, the mind performs a process called consolidation meaning recent memories are being ingrained in the brain to create long-term memories. Lack of sleep hinders in our ability to make sound judgments about others and ourselves. It especially affects our ability to assess how we are functioning in terms of how we are performing in the workplace or doing at school.
Daytime sleepiness is one of the dangerous consequences of sleep deprivation. It can lead to occupational and automobile injuries. Sleepiness decreases your alertness and slows down reaction time thus resulting in workplace injuries such as tripping over boxes or walking into walls. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration write that “each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities.” Driving while feeling sleepy or drowsy can be just as harmful as driving drunk. Your mind can’t focus on the task at hand due to the constant desire to fall asleep. Drivers under the age of 25 years old are responsible for most of these vehicle accidents.
What are the Causes of Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation can be caused by a variety of reasons such as family troubles or longer hours at work. Most often, it is due to undiagnosed sleep disorders. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognizes more than 85 million sleep disorders which affect millions of people in the United States. Insomnia and sleep apnea are two of the most prevalent sleep disorders Americans suffer from. Insomnia is when people have a difficult time falling asleep. People can suffer from acute or chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia doesn’t last more than a few nights and usually occurs when the stresses of everyday life are too much for one person to handle. The National Sleep Foundation defines chronic insomnia as “disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months.” Chronic insomnia may cause severe daytime sleepiness, making it difficult of pay attention to lectures in school or type on a computer at work. With sleep apnea, sleep is disrupted with short pauses in breathing up to ten seconds. More than 18 million people in the United States are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea.
How to Improve Sleep Habits
The Sleep Foundation provides some strategies of how to improve sleep in the following:
- Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
- Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music-begin an hour or more before the time your expected to fall asleep
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
- Use your bedroom only for sleep
- Avoid watching television, using a computer or reading in bed
- Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking
National Sleep Foundation http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems
American Academy of Sleep Medicine http://www.aasmnet.org/
National Institute of Health http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/
National Highway and Traffic Administration http://www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired
This article is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website atwww.montereybayholistic.com.
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