Is Sleep Essential?

Posted by Molly Riedel on October 06, 2021

We all know that sleep is essential to our well-being.  Adequate sleep allows us to improve cognitive performance and learning, and process memories.  A lack of sleep has been linked with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and has effects on mental health.  You may wonder how much sleep is necessary.  An acceptable amount of sleep is dependent on genetics, activity level, and health, and may vary from person to person.  The chart below, put out by the National Sleep Foundation, has recommendations for optimal sleep based on age.  This is a good starting point in determining whether you are getting enough sleep. 

Consider how you feel with the amount of sleep you get.  Are you excessively sleepy during the day? Are you using caffeine to keep you awake?  Do you sleep more when you are not required to wake up at a certain time?  Do you have difficulty falling asleep?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be wise to evaluate your sleeping habits.  Always contact your doctor if you have any sleeping concerns, but particularly if you snore, frequently awaken in the night, or are experiencing an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.  In the meantime, check out the websites below to find some quick sleep tips.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine: https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/

National Sleep Foundation: https://www.thensf.org/sleep-health-topics/

Here are five tips you can start today to improve your sleep:

  • Stop using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Do not get in bed until you are sleepy.
  • If you have been in bed for 20 minutes and are unable to fall asleep, get out of bed and do an activity that does not require much light exposure.
  • Consider your fluids. Reduce your fluid intake in the evening, avoid alcohol, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon/evening.
  • Get your exercise in during the morning or afternoon hours.

 

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