In General

Today’s guest sleep post is by Samantha Kent, a researcher for SleepHelp.org, edited by Ellie Porter.

Sleep isn’t a luxury; it’s essential for your health and well being. But so many adults today don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Do You Sleep Enough?

The CDC recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for adults. But more than 35 percent of adults don’t sleep that much at night. Men sleep slightly less than women do, and 45 to 54-year-olds sleep less than any other age group, though 35 to 44-year-olds aren’t far behind. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders get the least sleep, followed by blacks and American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Risks of Sleep Deprivation

When you don’t get enough sleep, you put yourself at a higher risk of serious conditions than those who get sufficient sleep. Health risk factors of sleep deprivation include:

  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Underage, binge, or heavy drinking

The risk of developing chronic health conditions goes up with sleep deprivation as well. You’re more likely to report these chronic conditions if you don’t sleep enough at night:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes

Sleep Deprivation and Teens

Although middle age is a difficult time for sleep among adults, teens sleep less than any other age group. Teens need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, but nearly 70 percent of teens sleep less than eight hours on school nights, especially 12th graders.

How to Sleep Well and Feel Well

  • Make sleep non-negotiable.Sleep is essential for health and vitality. It’s as essential as eating, drinking, and breathing , and not getting enough sleep can lead to mental and physical health problems. Don’t sacrifice sleep for anything.
  • Know how much sleep you need.Our sleeping needs change with age. Infants need up to 16 hours a day, while school-age children need up to 12 and teens up to 10. By adulthood, most people do well with seven to eight hours per day. However, if you are dealing with sleep debt, you may need more sleep at night or a daytime nap to try to make up for lost sleep.
  • Make time for sleep.When you make rest a priority, you schedule your life around sleep and not the other way around. Know how much sleep you need, then block out enough time to get to sleep, rest, and wake up in the morning without letting work, family, or social responsibilities get in the way.
  • Be consistent with sleep.Although it’s common for people to sleep in on weekends and go to bed later, doing so isn’t helping you support healthy sleep. When you don’t follow a regular sleep schedule, you can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm, which makes it difficult to get to sleep at night.
  • Make your bedroom a healthy place to sleep.Where you sleep is almost as important as how you sleep. You should make sure your bedroom is quiet, comfortable, and dark. Choose your mattress carefully, and consider using blackout curtains or a white noise machine to block out light and noise that can interfere with healthy sleep.

About the Author

Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.

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