To fit in everything we want to do in our day, we often sacrifice sleep. But sleep affects both mental and physical health. It’s vital to your well-being. When you’re tired, you can’t function at your best. Sleep helps you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better.
Importance of quality sleep:
- Improves memory and controls brain functioning
- Controls body temperature and metabolism
- Keeps heart and blood vessels healthy
- Regulates appetite and weight by controlling blood glucose levels
- Can reduce/relieve pain
Short or insufficient sleep:
- < 7 hours of sleep per day
- 36.2 % of Virginia adults reported short sleep
- Short sleep is more common in the southeastern United States and the Appalachian Mountains.
Sleep requirements by age:
- Newborns (0-3 mos): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 mos): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 yrs): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 yrs): 10-13 hours
- 6-13 yrs: 9-11 hours
- 14-17 yrs: 8-10 hours
- 18-25 yrs: 7-9 hours
- 26-64 yrs: 7-9 hours
- Greater than 65 yrs: 7-8 hours
Sleep Resources and Information:
- Most common sleep disorder
- Defined as inability to initiate or maintain sleep. May also be early morning awakening.
- Potentially serious sleep disorder
- Causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep
- Throat muscles relax and block your airway during sleep
- Noticeable sign is snoring
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (including episodes of irresistible sleepiness) combined with sudden muscle weakness are the hallmark signs.
- Characterized by an unpleasant “creeping” sensation, often feeling like it is originating in the lower legs
- Often associated with aches and pains throughout the legs
- This often causes difficulty initiating sleep and is relieved by movement of the leg, such as walking or kicking.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and lethargy
- Morning headaches
- Poor memory, difficulty focusing
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease
- An increased risk of alcohol and drug dependence
- Having a car accident, work accident
- Making mistakes at work
- Relationship problems
- Stick to a sleep schedule
- Create a pre-sleep routine to include specific mental tactics to calm the mind
- Avoid large meals, heavy and spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
- Avoid nicotine
- Create a restful environment
- Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
- Include physical activity in your daily routine
To learn more about Healthy Sleep, read, “Healthy Sleep at a Glance” from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, a good first step is to start keeping a sleep diary.