The CDC reports that about 35% of all adults in the US are not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation and persistent insomnia can cause slowed thinking, reduced attention and memory, poor decision-making, lack of energy, stress and irritability.
Sleep is essential for restoring the body and the brain so you can function during the day. In the long term, lack of sleep:
- affects heart and immune health
- puts you at higher risk of heart disease and stroke
- interferes with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, hormones, and weight, and
- is associated with depression and anxiety.
Persistent sleep deprivation compromises health and increases the risk of developing chronic diseases. Here’s what you need to know to catch up on sleep and improve your health.
How much sleep do we need?
General guidelines are 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Babies, young children, and teens need even more.
Beyond the number of hours, quality of sleep is also important. If an adult sleeps for a total of eight hours but wakes up frequently during the night, that rest is not as beneficial as it should be.
David Russian, MD, sleep specialist and CEO of WWMG, advises, “If you think you have a sleep problem, you probably do. Poor quality sleep negatively impacts all aspects of your health, so if you sleep better, you live longer.”
What causes sleep problems?
Sometimes, poor sleep is caused by disorders that need to be diagnosed and treated, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or shift worker sleep disorder.
Other lifestyle behaviors such as inconsistent bedtimes, electronic devices in the bedroom, and poor sleep hygiene can all contribute to insomnia and continual sleep deprivation for adults and children alike.
How to improve your sleep
There are several things you can do to support good sleep. The CDC recommends these habits that can improve sleep:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
- Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
- Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
Evaluation for sleep issues
For adults and children 4 years and older, WWMG’s Sleep Medicine providers offer:
- Comprehensive sleep evaluation
- Individualized treatment plans
- Home and in-lab sleep studies
- Cognitive and behavioral therapy for insomnia
When to seek help for sleep problems
After thorough evaluation, they’ll be able to identify the root cause of your sleep problem and develop an individualized treatment plan to help you get the rest you deserve.