Red eye flights. Graveyard shifts. Twenty-four hour superstores. We truly live in a word that never sleeps – and it’s starting to take a toll on our health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lack of sleep has become a national health epidemic in the United States, affecting as many as two-thirds of American adults.
Getting enough sleep is more than just a matter of clocking in our beauty rest. Research shows, as we sacrifice sleep to keep up with the demands of our busy lives, we pay a price with our ability to learn, health and safety and overall quality of life.
How Much Sleep We Need vs. How Much Sleep We Get
How much sleep a person requires is dependent of a number of variables, including age, lifestyle and health. Ideally, everyone should strive to meet the National Health Institute of Health’s suggested sleep for children, teens and adults each day:
- School-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep per day
- Teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep per day
- Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day
However, the reality is that the majority of Americans are sleep deprived. In fact, data from the National Health Interview Survey revealed that nearly 30 percent of adults reported getting less than 6 hours of sleep per day in 2005 to 2007, and in 2009, only 31 percent of high school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on a typical school night.
Too Little or Too Much Sleep is Bad for Your Health
Insufficient sleep – either getting too little or too much – can cause a number of serious problems for your health. Beyond increasing your risk for fatal accident on the job or on the road, as well as leading to decreased productivity levels and poor quality of life, inadequate sleep has been linked to the onset of several chronic health conditions, including:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cardiovascular disease
Tips & Tricks for a Better Night’s Sleep
The CDC recognizes sleep as an essential aspect of health promotion and chronic disease prevention. However, avoiding endless tossing and turning throughout the night isn’t always as simple as counting sheep. Follow these well-planned strategies to acquire deep, rejuvenating sleep you can count on, night after night:
- Stick to a sleep schedule – When possible, go to bed and get up at around the same time each day. Creating a sleep routine will help regulate your body’s internal clock, helping you to fall asleep and stay asleep easier.
- Create a comfortable sleeping environment – Adapt your bedroom for optimal sleeping conditions. In addition to picking a comfortable and supporting mattress and pillow, you may want to consider blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, fans, humidifiers and other devices to limit sleep distractions.
- Get physically active during the daytime – Daily exercise leads to better sleep and vice versa. Aim for at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity, five days a week, to enjoy deeper sleep. Remember that it’s usually best to exercise earlier in the day, because exercising too close to bedtime may cause restlessness.
- Nap smarter – Sometimes naps are inevitable when we need to make up for lost sleep. When taking a nap is necessary to repay sleep debt, make sure to do so in the afternoon, for 10 to 30 minutes, to still be able to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine – Nicotine and caffeine have stimulating effects on the body that can make it hard to fall asleep, and while alcohol can cause drowsiness at first, it can disrupt sleep later on in the night.
Don’t lose sleep over your health! UnityPoint At Home offers a variety of sleep services to help those diagnosed with sleep conditions live a happier, more productive life. Contact us today about your unique case, and, together, we can help determine the scope of care needed to nurture a better night’s sleep.
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