I struggle with getting enough sleep during the week and I know I’m not alone. Chronic sleep loss is rampant in today's society. The National Institutes of Health suggests that school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10 hours, and adults need 7-8 hours; however, nearly 30% of adults reported an average of 6 hours or less of sleep per day and only 31% of high school students getting at least 8 hours of sleep on an average school night.
Sleep is often sacrificed to watch TV and manage our many responsibilities working, doing chores and homework, child rearing, exercising, etc. However, it may be time to review our priorities and see if we can put sleep more towards the top. We can drink our red bulls and pour that second (third, or fourth) cup of coffee, but lost sleep is nothing to scoff at. Beyond it being related to car crashes and reduced productivity and libido, chronic sleep loss can contribute to a host of health problems:
Weight gain and altered metabolism: Sleep deprivation increases insulin resistance and screws up our concentrations of leptin and ghrelin (two key opposing hormones in appetite regulation), making us more hungry. It also significantly decreases activity in appetite evaluation regions in our brains, making us crave high-calorie foods!
Cardiovascular health: Short sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, an exaggerated inflammatory response, and increased stress hormone levels.
Learning and memory: The quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on learning and memory. Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory through its role in the consolidation of memory and enhancing our ability to focus, which are essential for learning new information.
Immune system: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Healthy Sleep Advice
If you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following to improve your sleep:
Hello and welcome! My name is Andrea Notch Mayzeles. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, Mom, and Master of Public Health dedicated to the path of well-being. As a wellness professional I am committed to continued learning and am here to share research, recipes and musings on health, psychology, personal development, and parenting. I hope you enjoy!