If you eat well and exercise regularly, but don’t get at least seven hours of sleep each night, you can ruin all your other endeavors.
And we’re not dramatic! Sleep disorders expert dr. Harnit Valia says sleep is so important to our health – and many of us miss it.
“First and foremost, we need to make sleep a priority,” says Dr. Valia. “We always recommend good nutrition and exercise for everyone, but we also recommend good sleep in the same way.”
How much sleep do you really need?
Everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep. But now you can aim for age-appropriate sleep goals thanks to a report from the National Sleep Foundation.
The Foundation bases its report on two years of research and divides it into nine specific age categories, with little possible range for individual preference:
- Adults, over 65 years: 7 to 8 hours.
- Adults 26 to 64 years old: 7 to 9 hours.
- Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Adolescents, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours.
- School age children from 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.
- Preschoolers aged 3 to 5:10 to 13 hours.
- Infants ages 1 to 2:11 to 14 hours.
- Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.
- Newborns from 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.
Dr. Walia says there is evidence that genetic, behavioral and environmental factors determine how much sleep a person needs for their best health and daily performance.
But a minimum of seven hours of sleep is a step in the right direction for improving your health, she says.
What if you don’t get enough sleep?
Your doctor asks you to get enough sleep for a good reason, says Dr. Waila. Not closing your eyes has a negative impact on your health in many ways:
Short term problems can be:
- Lack of alertness.
Lack of only 1.5 hours can affect your well-being.
- Excessive sleepiness during the day.
This can make you very sleepy and tired during the day.
- Impaired Memory
Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember, and process information.
- Relationship stress.
This can make you feel moody and more likely to have conflicts with other people.
- Quality of life.
They can reduce the chances of participating in normal daily activities or exercising.
More likely to be in a car accident. There are thousands of accidents, injuries, and deaths while driving a car every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you continue to work without getting enough sleep, you may experience long-term and more serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic insomnia are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.
Other potential problems include obesity, depression, compromised immunity, and decreased sexual desire.
Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance. Over time, this can lead to premature wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes. There is also a link between lack of sleep and an increase in the body’s stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can break down collagen, a protein that keeps skin smooth.
So less sleep can mean more wrinkles! Do you understand why sleep is so important?
How to sleep better.
If you have occasional light sleep problems, try these simple strategies from sleep expert Michelle Dreup, PsyD, DBSM.
1. Adequate sleep is as important as taking medication.
With all the demands of our time each day, you can put a good night’s sleep at the bottom of your priority list. But dr. Drerup says we need to give enough time to sleep.
“It’s so easy to stay up late and burn the candles at both ends,” she said. “However, if you do, you will soon experience sleep deprivation problems.”
2. Observe a constant wake-up time.
Get up at the same time every day, including weekends or days off. If you wake up at the same time every day, you can sleep better at night. Having a fixed time to wake up helps build a strong need to sleep during waking hours. This need for sleep accumulates gradually and its shortening makes it difficult to fall asleep the next night. Sleeping in on the weekends makes it harder to wake up early on Monday mornings.
This is also important, said dr. Drerup to enjoy a relaxing activity, such as a hot bath or reading a book before bed. By making this activity your bedtime ritual, you can learn to combine this activity with sleep. This association will help you fall asleep more easily.
3. Get rid of your smartphones and tablets.
Electronic devices keep your mind pumping – and avoid other things you should be doing before bed. Dr. Drerup recommends getting rid of devices such as smartphones and tablets at least an hour before bedtime.
4. If you are still awake at night, avoid looking at the clock.
“When you look at the time, you don’t just look at the numbers,” said Dr. Drerup. “You start with a calculation in your head, think about how much time has passed since you were in bed and what you should do the next day. And before you know it, it’s been a long time and it’s reducing your sleep time. ”
5. Make time to stay.
“In today’s society, people don’t get enough sleep. They have put sleep on the last part of their priority list because there is so much else to do – family, personal and professional life,” says Dr. Walia. “It’s a challenge, but when people understand the importance of getting enough sleep and how to sleep better, it makes a huge difference.”