More than one-third of adults aren’t getting enough sleep, which can result in a host of health consequences. If your sleep is suffering, there are things you can do to get more Zs.
In the list of healthy habits we should adopt — things like exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep — the sleep habit seems like an easy one to get into. But it turns out that’s not the case for everyone. More than one-third of adults in the U.S. aren’t getting enough Zs, according to the Centers for Disease Control (and a quick poll of In the Loop staff). And skimping on sleep can have serious health consequences.
“If you don’t snooze, you lose,” says Eric Olson, M.D., a pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic. He tells our friends at Mayo Clinic News Network that sleep deprivation can contribute to a host of health issues. The list includes fatigue and moodiness in the short term, and more serious problems — like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure — in the long term. (Talk about a nightmare.)
Sleep deprivation affects kids, too. And not just in the ways you’re probably imaging right now. “Children who don’t get enough sleep don’t grow and develop as they should,” Alva Roche Green, M.D. tells the Mayo Clinic News Network. Dr. Green, a Mayo Clinic family medicine physician, says problems can include “developmental delays in growth and mental capability.”
Whether you’re young or just young at heart, you can avoid these problems by getting enough shuteye. For kids, that amount varies by age. Infants need up to 17 hours of sleep a day, teenagers from 8 to 10 hours. Kids in between need anywhere from nine to 14 hours of sleep. Adults should aim for at least 7 hours each night.
If you’re falling short of that number, mayoclinic.org offers tips to get more sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, including weekends. This will reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Avoid large meals, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime. All can disrupt sleep.
- Create a restful environment. The best space for sleeping is one that’s cool, dark and quiet. That means no screens — including TVs — too close to bedtime. Aim to unplug at least 30 to 60 minutes before you go to sleep. This rule applies to kids, too.
- Limit naps. Long naps can interfere with sleep. If you can’t resist, keep your nap short, sweet and early in the day. (Babies, young children and Cory still need naps.)
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise, but try to avoid working out too close to bedtime. Kids’ sleep benefits from regular exercise as well.
- Manage worries. If your mind is full of tomorrow’s to-do list or other concerns, take a few minutes to write down your thoughts before bed. Then set the list aside and tell yourself you’ll deal with it tomorrow.
What “The PROPHET SAYS”
“I know from the testimonies given me from time to time for brain workers, that sleep is worth far more before than after midnight. Two hours’ good sleep before twelve o’clock is worth more than four hours after twelve o’clock. . . .” Manuscript Releases, volume 7, p. 224.