“I love my sleep.  My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know? – Ernest Hemingway

Most of us don’t get enough sleep.  We are a society that burns the candle at both ends from stress related factors as we stay up all night to study, work, or to relieve stress by having fun.  Otherwise, like most we live by the myths about our sleep.

Myths and Facts about our sleep

1 – Getting just one hour less sleep per night will not affect your daytime functioning. The fact about our sleep is that not getting the enough or right amount of sleep may carry an end-result of life-long consequences.  For instance, losing one hour of sleep can affect our ability to think and respond properly and quickly.  It also compromises the function of our heart, energy balance, and ability to fight of infections.

2 – Our body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules. While this may have some truth, the fact is that most of us can reset our biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues and it can take more than a week to adjust when we travel across many time zone or switching shifts from day to night.

3 – Extra sleep at night can cure our problems with excessive daytime fatigue.  The quantity of sleep is important, but the quality is what matters most that we really have to pay attention to.  Some of us may sleep 8 to 9 hours, but the quality of our sleep may be poor.

4 – We can make up for the lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends. This can sure relieve part of a sleep debt, but is not necessarily so for it affects our sleep-wake cycle, in which it makes it much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.

Why Sleep Health is important?

Sleep is a critical determinant of our health and well-being as much as proper nutrition and exercise.  Poor sleep health influences our patterns of behavior that negatively affects family and interpersonal relationships, decreased health –related quality of life, in addition to reduction in day to day productivity and efficiency, increase chances of errors and accidents such as operating a motor vehicle.

Proper adequate deep sleep is necessary to fight off infection, work effectively and safely, perform well in school, and prevent the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes.

Signs of sleep deprivation if you..

Needing an alarm clock to wake up on time

Relying on the snooze button

Having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning

Feeling sluggish in the afternoon

Getting sleepy in meetings or lectures

Getting drowsy after heavy meals or when driving

Needing to nap through the day

Falling asleep while watching TV

Feeling the need to sleep in on the weekends

Falling asleep within five minutes of going to bed

Getting the sleep that you need

Stress, shift work, and age-related sleep disturbances are some of many factors that interfere with our ability to obtain our needed sufficient sleep.  Overcoming these factors that interfere with our sleep and identifying our sleep difficulties are just a few things that can derive us towards the proper sleep that we all need by making behavioral changes such as to our sleep/wake schedule, avoiding caffeine late in the day, and limiting exposure to light at bedtime.

How much sleep do we really need?

In the National Health Institute, the average sleep needs of an average adult have been less than 7 hours per night.  Six hours of sleep may seem enough and seems like a good amount, but in reality an extra hour or two would be an ideal amount to function optimally or at our best.


Consequences of Insufficient Sleep

Competition between sleep schedules, employment and lifestyle is one of everyone’s challenging trends in this day in age.  Intermittent sleep disturbances due to lifestyle choices are associated with temporary fatigue, disorientation, and decreased alertness.  In addition, a lack of sleep can affect our judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information; and, increase risk of serious accidents and injury. Chronic sleep deprivation may lead to most of our present health problems (e.g., obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes) and even death.



Factors to poor and inadequate sleep:

Being woken during the night

Working night shifts or swing shifts

Smoking or drinking in the evening

Exposure to artificial electronics devices (e.g., TVs, computer, and mobile phones)

So, for achieving better rest and health is to stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.  Avoid screens (TV, phone, computer, tablets) within 2 hours of your bedtime.  Ensure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet. Curtains and fans can help.

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