If you are anything like me and remain stubborn, you might not give much thought to the importance of sleep. I often prefer to just avoid the feelings of fatigue and I just keep moving along. Even though I probably have experienced one or both before, I never knew exactly what it meant sleep deprived or sleep deficiency until writing this and now I have a lot of information to share with y’all.
The bottom line is, sleep is crucial for good health and well-being throughout our lives. The amount, quality of and sleeping during the right times can assist in protecting our mental health, physical health, quality of our life and even our own safety.
While we are asleep, our bodies are working to support both healthy brain function and maintaining our physical health. Sleep also enhances our learning, problem-solving skills, the ability to pay attention, making decisions and our own creativity.
Our immune system relies heavily on sleep in order to remain healthy and to continue defending own bodies against foreign and harmful substances. This should really grab the attention of all of us, especially those of us that already have weaker immune system, and heighten our desire to change our sleep patterns so our immune system can be stronger.
Deep sleep triggers our body to release hormones that promote normal growth. The hormone that is released during heavy sleep actually boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues. This hormone also maintains a healthy balance between the feelings hunger and feeling full.
We just briefly went over some of the positives regarding getting the proper amount of sleep; let’s now go over the negative aspects to not getting enough sleep. Sleep deficiency can alter parts of the brain, including trouble making decisions, solving problems and controlling our emotions and behaviors. Sleep deficiency also can lead to depression, risk taking behaviors and can go as far as suicide.
Ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to many other risks, including obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Continued sleep deficiency can drastically change responses from the immune system which will make it fighting against common infections very difficult.
After only a few nights of losing as little as 1-2 hours of sleep our ability to function is compromised and causes us to be less productive than if we actually got the sleep needed. For some reason it was shocking to me that after only losing a few hours of sleep a couple nights in a row can and does cause so many issues for us. I know that my sleep patterns are not good and I very rarely get enough sleep, which really needs to change!
Another thing I would have NEVER expected is sleepiness causes just as many if not more accidents than drunk driving. It is a fact that about 100,000 accidents and 1,500 deaths yearly are due to driving without enough sleep. The reason this caught my eye so much is because I have always refused to get behind the wheel of a car after even just one drink, but yet I drive most of the time without enough sleep.
The chart below is from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). These are recommendations for what is proper sleep.
Age Recommended amount of sleep
4-12 months old 12-16 hours, including naps
1-2 years old 11-14 hours, including naps
3-5 years old 10-13 hours
6-12 years old 9-12 hours
13-18 years old 8-10 hours
18 and older 7-8 hours
Sleep deprivation and sleep deficiency can affect people of any age, race and ethnicity. However, the list below shows who could be at a greater risk:
- Has limited time to sleep, such as caregivers, those working longer hours and or working more than one job.
- Those with a work schedule that conflicts with their internal clocks, like shift workers.
- Making lifestyle choices preventing sleep. For instance taking medicine to stay awake during the day, abusing alcohol and or drugs.
- Undiagnosed or untreated medical problems, such as stress, anxiety or sleep disorders.
- Having a medical condition or taking medication that interferes with sleep.
There are actually a few medical conditions that have been linked to sleep disorders such as; heart failure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, depression and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Sleep deficiency can cause you to feel very sleepy during the day and not feeling refreshed and alert when you wake up. This can cause a person to have a variety of issues to deal with like problems learning, focusing, trouble making decisions, memory issues, controlling emotions and behaviors, coping with change and taking longer to complete tasks. If you feel you could doze off during any of the following symptoms you might be experiencing sleep deficiency:
- Sitting to read a book or watching TV
- Sitting in a public place; like a movie theater, meeting at work or classroom
- Riding in a car for an hour without a break
- Sitting and talking to someone
- Sitting quietly after lunch
- Sitting in traffic for a few minutes
Once you have realized that you are sleep deprived it is vital to start taking the proper steps to improve for the sake of your own health. If we start getting enough sleep nightly we may find we are not only happier, but also more productive.
Steps to improve our sleep habits may include:
- Trying to keep the same sleep schedule daily, even on the weekends. Limiting the difference to no more than one hour is important. Going to bed later and sleeping in on the weekends can and will disrupt the body’s internal clock.
- Use the hour before bedtime as quiet time. Avoid strenuous activities and bright artificial light from the TV or computer screen. The light that comes from a TV or computer screen can signal the brain that it is time to be awake.
- Avoid heavy and or large meals within a few hours prior to bedtime. Also avoid alcohol before bedtime.
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, tea, soda and chocolate. The effects from these can last up to 8 hours, which could make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Spend time outside and be active during the day.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark.
- Take a hot bath or try other relaxation techniques before bedtime.
- Adults should limit nap-time. If a nap is necessary, it should not be more than 20 minutes.
Thank y’all for visiting my site today. The topic of proper sleep has always been an issue for me. It seems as soon as I lay my head down my thoughts start getting out of control and run on high speed. I do the best I can, but still never get the right amount of sleep. Do y’all deal with this issue and if so what do you do about it?
I hope you are enjoying your weekend the best you can. I think the weekend went by way too fast and our new week starts again tomorrow. Maybe the weekend went by fast because of the time change, but that should actually make the weekend longer. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on this post and I know you will have excellent ideas. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love , comfort, and may positive vibes!