Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining optimal physical health, mental and emotional functioning, and cognitive performance. Inadequate sleep time and poor quality sleep can influence decreased quality of life, reduction in pro-health processes, and can be overall hazardous to health.
What is sleep deficiency? Sleep deficiency is a collective term that applies to people who: don’t get enough sleep, sleep at the wrong time of day, don’t get quality sleep, or those with a sleep disorder that causes a disruption in a normal sleep cycle.
Sleep deficiency is a serious problem that has been linked to and can lead to a number of serious consequences. It has been shown to be a precursor to injuries, loss of productivity, mental and physical health problems, and even an increased chance of death. Cardiovascular detriments such as heart disease and high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, kidney disease, and depression are a few of these chronic pathologies that have been linked to not getting enough sleep. Other physiological outcomes due to decreased or impaired sleep include increased risk for obesity and impaired immune system functioning. Apart from more physical detriments, mental processes can also be affected. These include decreased school or work place performance due to decreased alertness, poor memory, and impaired problem solving.
So, how much sleep is enough sleep?
The National Institutes of Health recommend 9-10 hours a day for teenagers and 7-8 hours a day for adults. A study involving 1.1 million participants performed by Daniel Kripke, M.D. found that 7 hours of sleep had the lowest hazard ratio (decreased death rates as compared to the other populations). Another interesting finding was that sleep longer than 8 hours a day was correlated to increasing hazard ratios.
There are several ways to tell whether or not you are getting enough sleep. There are standardized sleeping assessments available that can be performed, which will give some insight into sleep health. A major one is falling asleep when not intending to. Also, sleeping more on days off shows that you may not be getting enough sleep during the week. This may sound like a good idea to regain lost sleep and make you feel better temporarily, but it can upset the body’s sleep-wake cycle (or Circadian rhythm).
Evaluation of the environment in which you sleep can also help with sleep quality. The presence of light disrupts falling asleep at night and shortens sleep in the morning. The presence of noises such as traffic, phones, computers, music, and TV can also inhibit the ability to fall asleep as well. The last component that can affect sleep quality is the temperature. It can be either too hot or too cold, which can impact the ability to fall asleep and get quality sleep. Adapting these environmental conditions can help propel normal sleep.
Some other ways to help improve your sleep health are: maintaining a regular sleep/wake schedule whenever possible – including weekends and vacations, avoid napping during the day – especially in the late afternoon/early evening, and limiting naps to less than an hour. Establishing a regular, relaxing bedtime routine can also help. Exercising regularly can also improve sleep habits, as long as it is not performed within 2 hours of your target bedtime. Avoid eating large meals just before going to sleep. Avoid caffeinated beverages, especially after lunch. Also, avoid the use of alcohol and nicotine as these substances can disrupt sleep.
Check out this Sleep Program to help you get the best rest.
Getting the appropriate amount of sleep can not only help the healing process, but also allow the body to function more efficiently and appropriately. Why not set your body up for a much more proficient day by getting enough shuteye the night before? For more information about how to work on getting better sleep, refer to MPT’s Sleep Program for additional assistance.
Sleep basics for health promotion. Richardson, Barbara, firstname.lastname@example.org. Washington State University.