Sleep: How Much Is “Enough?”
Lack of sleep is becoming a public health epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also noted that insufficient sleep is potentially linked to a wide range of health problems. Indeed, today’s modern lifestyle has robbed people of their much needed good night’s sleep. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 40 percent of adults get six hours of sleep or less per night. Meanwhile, the 2014 Sleep in America Poll found that 58 percent of teens get only 7 hours of sleep or less.
Making small adjustments to your lifestyle and daily routine can help solve your struggle with getting enough sleep. But how much sleep should you really get? Is there a “Holy Grail” of sleep that you should strive for?
National Sleep Foundation Releases Updated Sleep Guidelines
In February, 2015, the National Sleep Foundation released a new set of guidelines on how much sleep people should ideally get. A panel of experts, led by Harvard professor, Charles Czeisler, reviewed over 300 studies that were published between 2004 and 2014 to determine how much sleep people need in order to maintain optimal health. Their findings were summarized by age group, ranging from newborns (zero to three months) to seniors (65 years and older). You can check out the complete list here.
The findings reveal that teenagers and young adults need around eight hours of sleep on the average. Sadly, modern habits, such as watching television, playing video games, and surfing the Internet using their computers or smartphones, have severely impacted their sleep and bedtime pattern – causing their health to completely deteriorate.
How Does Modern Technology Affect Your Sleep?
The proliferation of electronics is a significant factor that affects how teens in particular find it difficult to fall asleep at night. Being exposed to excessive amounts of light from these gadgets prevents the release of the “sleep hormone” melatonin, which in turn hinders your brain from winding down for sleep.
Even the electromagnetic radiation from these gadgets can adversely affect your sleep. The 2014 Sleep in America Poll found that 53 percent of respondents who turned off their gadget at night rate their sleep as excellent, compared to just 27 percent of respondents who leave their devices on at night.
And here’s what’s even more disturbing: teens who use electronic gadgets found it difficult to fall asleep at night – even when their use of these devices was restricted to daytime hours!
Get Your Much Needed Sleep with These Simple Strategies
Getting enough restful sleep that’s in line with the recommendations set by the National Sleep Foundation can be tough, especially if you’ve become used to being sleep deprived. However, these basic lifestyle changes can help turn this around:
- Establish a sleep routine. Program your body to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day – even on weekends. Doing this will help your body get into a sleep rhythm, so you can fall asleep at night and wake up easier in the morning.
- Do not watch TV or use your computer or smartphone at night, at least an hour before bedtime. These gadgets emit blue light that tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
- Sleep in total darkness. Your body’s internal clock and your melatonin production can be disrupted by even the smallest amount of light – such as that from your alarm clock. Cover your window with drapes or blackout shades to keep outside light from coming in, or better yet, use a sleep mask.
- Keep your bedroom temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The optimal room temperature for good sleep is between 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do not eat before-bed snacks, especially those loaded with grains and sugars. These can raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Once your blood sugar drops too low, you may wake up and find it difficult to fall back to sleep.
About the Author:
Elaine Ferrer writes for Mercola.com. She is researching the best measures to get a good night’s sleep, as well as effective habits to establish a good sleep routine. She is also writing an article about the advantages of using an organic mattress and whether or not it can impact people’s quality of sleep.