Category: Author: Grahame
More than one third of American adults don’t get enough sleep. Many of us eat well, and exercise regularly, yet get less than seven hours of sleep each night.
That may not seem like a big deal, but skimping on sleep—by even just an hour—can seriously affect your health, and the economy.
Want to add more sleep to your day? Keep reading to discover the effects of being sleep deprived and ways to snooze a bit longer.
How much sleep you really need
Thanks to a report from the National Sleep Foundation, we now have a target sleep number by age for which to aim:
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
- Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
- Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
- Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
- School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
- Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
- Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
- Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
- Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours
Overall, a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night is a good target to aim for to improve your health.
What happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep
You’re most likely aware that lack of sleep can make you feel foggy and grumpy. What you may not realize is it can also affect your memory, health, looks, and even your ability to lose weight.
Getting enough sleep can make you smarter. Sleep plays a crucial role in learning and thinking. Lack of sleep impairs alertness, attention, reasoning, concentration, and problem solving abilities.
Also, during the night your brain goes through various “sleep cycles” where memories are consolidated. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced that day.
Chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, put you at risk for health conditions like:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Certain types of cancers
How lack of sleep can really cost you
Each year, lack of sleep costs the U.S. economy up to $411 billion. This figured is made up of the costs associated with mortality, since sleep deprivation has been linked to nearly half of the leading causes of death in the U.S.; reduced productivity, since sleepy workers produce less and are absent more often; and declining educational achievements and development skills which affect future earnings.
Too little sleep affects more than our looks and health. It affects our society as a whole.
Improve your sleep starting today
Need help getting more sleep each night? Here are some effective tips to help you snooze better at night:
- Rule out the possibility of having a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Start by talking with your dentist who can help you identify any warning signs and develop a plan of action.
- Create a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Ensure you have the right environment to sleep—ideal temperature, light, and sound.
- Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.
Make sleep a priority. Schedule in time for sleep as you would any other important activity, and stick to it for better overall health.
Dr. Sommers is a Loyola Dental School graduate who dreamed of owning his own practice. He got his wish 25 years ago when he opened Sure Smile Dental in the Dental Arts Building in downtown Aurora, Illinois. When he’s not managing his dental practice, Dr. Sommers coaches men’s tennis and teaches classes at Aurora University. He also enjoys spending time with his sons and watching classic movies.