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Sleeping is something we all need to do.
Many people may not realize how much sleep, or lack thereof, can really affect our daily lives.
The amount of sleep a person needs differs due to various factors, including but not limited to activity level and age.
Here are some important things to know about sleep and how it affects all aspects of our lives.
Krista’s previous three columns:
How many hours should I sleep?
For children, sleep is vital for their development.
Infants and toddlers need an average of 12 to 17 hours of sleep.
The amount of sleep needed decreases with age.
According to the CDC, children ages 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep, those ages 13 to 17 need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, and young adults (ages 18 to 25 years) require seven to nine hours.
Teenagers are notorious for not getting enough sleep due to all the things that go on in their daily life.
Teenagers face many hormonal changes, which consume a lot of energy from the body. Most teens don’t get the amount of sleep they need. Most only sleep about seven hours a night.
Most adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep.
Finally, once you reach age 65+, the number of hours you need decreases slightly. Adults 65 and older need 7-8 hours of sleep per night for optimal functioning.
What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
Although every age group requires a certain amount of sleep for optimal functioning, that doesn’t mean everyone achieves these goals.
Many of us are sleep deprived, which often manifests itself in symptoms in our daily lives.
Some of these symptoms include forgetfulness, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, and even weight gain.
Apart from the physical symptoms, lack of sleep can also affect a plethora of activities in our lives such as our work, school, and driving.
Sleeping less than the required amount can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Can you catch up on your sleep? Is “sleep debt” real?
What is sleep debt, you ask?
Sleep debt is the term that refers to how much sleep a person needs and how much they get.
For example, if your body needs nine hours of sleep, but you only get seven, you have a two-hour sleep debt.
Sleep debt is cumulative, meaning it grows and grows.
If you consistently miss your sleep goal, you accumulate sleep debt.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to feel tired. Many people suffer from chronic sleep restriction.
Chronic sleep restriction refers to the fact that you do not feel tired or sleepy, but your physical and mental performance declines.
Getting over a sleep debt is often difficult.
Taking a nap is often the first action we take when we haven’t slept a full night.
Naps can help ease feelings of fatigue, and they can also help with working memory, learning, and mental acuity for a few hours.
However, naps are not enough for long-term sleep debt, so you should try to achieve the hours of sleep required for optimal health.
How do sleep and fitness go hand in hand?
Sleep affects our physical recovery and even our metabolism. It is crucial that our body gets at least 7 hours of sleep, especially if you lead an active lifestyle.
During sleep, our body begins to recover. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and the release of human growth hormone.
If you’re sleep deprived, your body isn’t able to perform these functions properly, which can cause a whirlwind of problems and increase your risk of injury.
Lack of sleep can also affect our metabolism.
Our metabolism is what converts our food into energy, and when affected, it can prevent our body from functioning properly.
Research has shown that when our bodies don’t get the right amount of sleep, they’re less likely to expend fat as energy and more likely to store it when we don’t get enough daily rest.
This can lead to weight gain and many other health issues.
How to sleep better
We learned why sleep is vital and how it affects our bodies. Now is the time to learn how to achieve these goals if you are not already achieving them.
If you’re trying to catch up on sleep after racking up a sleep debt, here are some ways to start getting back on track.
Tip 1: To be coherent. Consistency is key to anything you want to accomplish in life, especially when it comes to hitting your sleep goals.
You can become more regular by going to bed at the same time every night and setting your alarm clock at the same time every morning. This even includes weekends.
Having a schedule helps you stay on track and make time for sleep!
Tip 2: Give it time. Getting out of sleep debt can take up to four days. Increase your sleep daily, even if it’s an extra 15-30 minutes a day. You’ll eventually get back on track and get out of your sleep debt.
Tip 3: Make your bedroom a space where you are comfortable and stress-free. You can do this by turning off the lights, keeping her at a comfortable temperature, and not using electronics in bed. We often stay up later using our electronic devices, leading to sleep debt.
Tip 4: Have a nighttime routine. Avoid bright lights, electronic devices, caffeine and alcohol before bed. Taking a relaxing shower or bath can also reduce stress levels.
Tip 5: You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day to achieve optimal health. You should do this at least 5 hours before bedtime. It can help you feel more tired and ready to rest.
Overall, sleep is vital to all aspects of our health.
It affects all parts of our life, and if you don’t get enough of it, it can lead to a decrease in all our functions.
If you or someone you know is having trouble sleeping, try these tips!
See a doctor if you think your symptoms are getting worse or not improving.
Krista Stevens is a graduate of the University of Florida. To learn more, see:
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