Popular culture teaches us that "if you snooze you lose," but research shows just the opposite—sleep is important! Learn why getting quality sleep is essential to health. Find out what happens when we get the right kind of sleep and what negative consequences, like loss of productivity, result from not getting enough rest. Review tips and tricks to improve sleep patterns.
- Infants: as much as 16 hours per day
- 1-5 years: 10-14 hours per day
- 6-12 years: 9-12 hours per day
- 13-18 years: 8-10 hours per day
- Adults: 7-9 hours per day
*Learn more at: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
- According to the CDC, "More than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10% experience chronic insomnia."
- A MedlinePlus article reports "recent national surveys show that 30 % of U.S. adults sleep fewer than 7 hours a night. As many as 30 % of adults report daytime sleepiness....[and] 70 % of adolescents sleep less than the recommended 8-9 hours each night."
- It is estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.
- Lack of sleep plays a role in "on the job accidents" such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Meltdown and numerous plane and ship incidents.
- "Little Sleep, BIG COST" Infographic ~American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Explore more sleep disorder myths/facts
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep" (PDF available online) is designed for patients and provides a comprehensive review of important sleep-related information.
- Improves our ability to:
- Problem solve
- And be creative
- Lowers blood pressure and allows our heart and blood vessels to rest
- Helps certain hormones regulate:
- The repair of cells and tissues
- The immune system (to fight infection)
- Blood sugar levels (which affect energy)
- Boosts our mood
- Helps us better manage our emotions and behaviors (impulse control)
Why is Sleep Important? from NIH
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness and/or emotional instability
- Poor impulse control
- Increased appetite
- Accident prone
- Reduced accuracy
- Decreased productivity
- After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven't slept at all for a day or two.
- Lack of sleep also may lead to microsleep. Microsleep refers to brief moments of sleep that occur when you're normally awake. ~NIH
Think about what vital information might be missed during a microsleep that occurs at work, while driving, in a classroom, on the telephone, in a healthcare setting, while operating machinery....
Learn more: Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety from Harvard Medical School's Sleep Medicine Department
In the U.S., sleep deprivation contributes to $50 billion dollars in lost productivity each year
See even more startling statistics at: Sleep Disorders & Insufficient Sleep: Improving Health through Research from the NIH
Insufficient sleep has been linked to these chronic diseases/conditions:
- Diabetes: increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels
- Cardiovascular Disease: increased chance of stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, irregular heart beat (arrhythmias)
- Infection: the immune system is suppressed by lack of sleep increasing susceptibility to infection (like colds)
- People who averaged < 7 hours of sleep a night were about 3X more likely to develop cold symptoms than people who got > 8 hours of sleep
- Sleep-deprived people given the flu shot develop only 1/2 as many antibodies as people getting enough sleep
- Learn more at: "Good night's sleep may prevent a cold, study finds"
- Mental Health: increased chance of depression and/or anxiety
- Obesity: lack of sleep leads to negative metabolic and hypothalamus function changes, plus, the longer a person is awake, the greater the chance of "grazing" (snacking)
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, and strenuous exercise too close to bedtime
- Limit fluids close to bedtime
- Sleep in a quiet, cool, dark room
- Avoid bright lights and electronic screens
- Ban "devices" from your sleep space
Learn more at: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html
Key sleep disorders are:
More ways to improve your sleep:
"Habits That Ruin Your Sleep" from Sleep.org (The National Sleep Foundation)
A variety of mind & body, herbal and supplement therapies are associated with sleep. For a review of treatments and the scientific evidence associated with them, see:
Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches: What the Science Says from the NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
In addition to the articles referenced above, check out:
Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency Health Topic from the NIH
Sleep Disorders Health Topic from MedlinePlus.gov
Sleep Disorder & Sleep Health Information from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine