By Tracy Shields - Nighty Night! Sleep tight. Don’t let insomnia or sleep disturbances get in the way of a good night’s sleep.
It’s Sleep Awareness Week! And according to the 2014 Sleep in America Poll, American moms, dads, kids and teens are not getting enough sleep.
A good night’s sleep is a major part of the bigger picture of our individual health. It is the best (and sometimes only) time within a 24-hour period when we relax. It is responsible for helping our bodies detox and repair the day’s damage. And because we don’t need the energy or blood flow to the brain to think during sleep, it is the only time that extra blood can make its way to our muscles to restore energy. A good night’s sleep can even improve the immune system, help fight infection (even cancer) and rebuild cell tissue.
Here is our Res-Q Q&A on the importance of catching some Zs.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
Well, if you’re relatively healthy, a lack of sleep could cause health issues such as lower immune-system function (feeling run-down), impaired reflexes and brain function, and accidents. Over time, a lack of sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack and stroke, diabetes and obesity.
How much sleep does a person need to stay healthy?
Most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Kids need about 10-11 hours. However, some adults are able to function after as little as six hours of sleep. You know best how much sleep you need; it’s just a matter of getting it!
What causes a lack of sleep/sleep disturbances?
Many things can interfere with a good night’s sleep: poor diet, stimulants (sugar, caffeine), lack of exercise, stress, alcohol or drug use, anxiety, medical issues (like asthma) and now, according to the National Sleep in America poll, television, smartphones and tablets are the leading cause of sleeplessness in tweens and teens.
What can I do to get a better night’s sleep?
It’s important to remember that most sleep disturbances, including insomnia, can be treated naturally. Removing junk foods like fast food, caffeine and refined carbs (cakes, cookies and candy) from your diet will help enormously, as will daily exercise, meditation for stress and all-natural sleep remedies. Medications should be a last-ditch effort as they can become habit-forming and don’t do anything to help restore normal circadian sleep patterns. If it’s your kids that you’re worried about, try removing electronics like cell phones and TVs from their rooms. Keep TVs and computers in a common room, and take phones away at age-appropriate times (after dinner; at eight for tweens; and 10 for teens?).