As we know, sleep is important in both adults and children, but are we sleeping enough? We are at a point in time where fewer Americans than ever are getting their recommended hours of a snooze in. In a study conducted by The Good Body they found 35% of Americans don’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep they need. They also found that 97% of teenagers don’t sleep enough and 20% have a sleeping disorder.
According to Forbes, insufficient sleep has been linked to depression, ADHD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimers and more. How have our sleeping patterns changed over the years? And how can we get a better night’s rest?
What is sleep anyway?
Sleep is described as a reversible state of unresponsiveness and disengagement from our environment. The desire for sleep builds during the time we’re awake. It is linked to the clearance of chemicals within the brain like adenosine and the circadian alerting signal. Making sure you get an adequate amount of sleep restores the body and is vital for our health. In the last 100 years, researchers have learned more about or sleep than ever before.
Recent research has reported people are sleeping less now than they have ever in the past several decades. A self-reported poll among American adults suggests that people are not getting in their required hours of sleep. So how many hours of sleep do people really need?
Changes In Sleep Over Our Lifetime
As we get older, our sleeping habits will naturally change. Generally, toddlers require 11-14 hours of sleep and naps during the day to feel properly rested. Teenagers require about 9+ hours of rest. A typical adult requires from 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly to avoid the effects of sleep deprivation. Adults older than 65 years may require only 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Surveys suggest that 35%-40% of the adult population sleeps less than 7-8 hours on weekdays. The results from self-reported surveys may vary or not be exact due to unreported instances, such as time spent falling asleep, getting back to sleep or waking up during sleep. The lack of sleep can lead to more serious consequences like insomnia or other sleeping disorders. These issues can lead to more serious and long term health complications.
Bad For Our Mental Health?
Sleep- deprivation is extremely detrimental for our brains and mental health. Some can experience affected moods, increased depression, pain, affected judgment, poor organization, lack of concentration, loss of memory and decreased performance. These can also be coupled with our hormones getting out of whack and can influence weight gain or growth stunts (in youth).
Sleep deprivation can become fatal as well. The increased risk of fatal traffic accidents associated with lack of sleep is almost as high as alcohol-related incidents. People who sleep fewer than 5 hours have a higher chance of heart attacks.
Reduce Time Spent On Electronics
In the modern day era, it’s no surprise as to why we’re sleeping less than ever before. With the curse and blessing of technology, our brains are facing constant stimulation. We need to start prioritizing our sleep over our devices, but how? First, allow a one-hour timeframe to ease into relaxation without the distraction of devices before bed. Maintain a regular sleeping schedule even on the weekends. Aim for 15-20 minutes of sunshine upon awakening or at sunrise. Always go to bed feeling sleepy. Moderate the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
If your sleep problems continue to seek help. Chronic insomnia can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. The treatment is easily accessible by trained therapists and workshops or books. Symptoms such as early rising, excessive daytime tiredness, paused breathing, night sweats, teeth grinding and morning headaches could suggest sleep apnea. A proper evaluation should be taken and appropriate testing for effective treatment.
Sleep should become a natural process of unwinding after a long day and should never contribute to stress. The first step to a better night’s sleep is recognizing the importance. Now, take time to make a few changes to help improve your rest.