As I travel on this journey to health and wellness, I am rediscovering how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Just think about your life. How do you feel when you have had a poor night’s sleep? When you couldn’t fall asleep because your brain was racing with a billion thoughts all at once? When your spouse was snoring so loud you thought the house was going to fall down? When that afternoon cup of joe turned out to be a bad idea?
How did you feel in the morning? What was your day like? Did you make healthy food choices? Were you patient in a traffic jam? Were you productive at work? Probably not.
Now, think about a time when you had a truly restful, good night’s sleep. How did your day look different?
Despite many recommendations and experts telling you, there is one thing I think people don’t realize, which is how much sleep they should be getting each night. Of course, you have your night owls – “I can function on 4-5 hours of sleep per night.” Sure…you can function, but optimally? Do you find yourself getting tired while the sun is still up? Do you reach for a caffeinated beverage around 2 or 3 in the afternoon to give you a little “pick-me-up”? Do you fall asleep on your couch watching TV well before bedtime? These could be signs that you need more sleep than you thought.
Based on recent studies, at least 1/3 of the general population experience insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep). Many turn to medications to help, but those can lead to other side effects. Medications like Zolpidem (generic Ambien) taken for more than 5 years has been linked to an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. Temazepam is a benzodiazepine used to help sleep, but it can deplete Melatonin (the hormone that triggers our brain that it’s time to sleep), so it can become a vicious cycle.
According to the National Sleep Foundation adults 18 years of age to 64 years of age need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Many do not get that much sleep and suffer adverse consequences, but more on that in a bit. How about I put up a handy chart showing the recommended sleep amounts?
RECOMMENDED HOURS OF SLEEP
14 - 19
12 - 16
6 - 7:30 pm
11 - 14
7 - 7:30 pm
10 - 13