Healthy Lifestyles: Sleep and Sleep Deficiencies

Sleep plays a vital role in our everyday health. Getting enough sleep is important to maintaining your physical and mental health, as well as your quality of life and safety. It is important that you get a good sleep every night because not getting enough sleep can lead to chronic health problems, which can affect the way you think, react, learn, and work.

While you are sleeping, your body is healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. For young children and teenagers, sleep supports your growth and development. Your brain is preparing for the next day to help you learn and remember information, and studies show that getting a good night’s rest improves your ability to learn, focus, make decisions, and be creative.

Sleep deficiencies may make you feel tired and less alert, and can interfere with work, school, driving, and social functioning. It can cause problems with learning, focusing, reacting, making decisions, problem solving, and it might take longer to complete tasks and cause you to make more mistakes. Symptoms of sleep deficiency are different with everyone. Children might be overactive and start misbehaving. They might also feel angry, sad and depressed, or show a lack of motivation. You might have a sleep deficiency if you feel you could doze off while:

  • Reading or watching TV

  • Sitting in a public place

  • Riding in a care for an hour without stopping

  • Talking to someone

  • Sitting quietly after lunch

  • Sitting in traffic for a few minutes

You can find out if you are sleep deficient by keeping a sleeping log and recording what times you go to sleep and wake up, as well as recording how you feel and how alert you are.

The amount of time you are supposed to sleep differs among everyone. It is recommended that:

  • Infants (4-12 months) get 12-16 hours a day

  • Children (1-2 years) get 11-14 hours a day

  • Children (3-5 years) get 10-13 hours a day

  • Children (6-12 years) get 9-12 hours a day

  • Teenagers (13-18) get 8-10 hours a day

  • Adults (18+) get 7-8 hours a day

To improve sleep habits, you can:

  • Set a routine of when to wake up and go to sleep

  • Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends

  • Avoid using your technology an hour before going to bed

  • Avoid heavy/large meals and alcohol within a couple hours of going to bed

  • Avoid nicotine and caffeine

  • Try to find time to go outside each day and be physically active

  • Use relaxation techniques before going to bed

If going to sleep starts to become an issue, talk to your doctor about other strategies you can use to get a better night’s rest.

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