Think you can learn to survive on less than six hours of sleep a night? Think again. Adults typically need between seven and nine hours of shut-eye per night to function at their best. And it shows, between health care expenses and lost productivity, insufficient sleep in the United States comes in at an annual cost to employers of about 66 billion dollars.
When you’re scrambling to meet the demands of a busy schedule, cutting back on sleep may seem like the only answer. Sacrificing an hour or two of rest in order to get more done can sound like a reasonable trade-off. But the truth is that even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and your ability to handle stress. Over the long-term, chronic sleep loss wreaks havoc on your health, as well as simply lowering your everyday quality of life.
Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like.
To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interfere with our “circadian rhythm,” or natural sleep/wake cycle. The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight.
Sleep needs will vary as we age, and they are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep, such as work schedules and stress. To get the sleep you need, you must look at the big picture. There could be stress, diet or exercise concerns, physical ailments, or a combination of several things.
To learn more about getting the proper rest you need, call Gingras Sleep Medicine at (704) 944-0562 to request an appointment, or request one online. If you recognize a problem with your sleep patterns, it’s better to seek help rather than go through life not running on all cylinders.