Sleep is Important to Your Health

Sleep plays a big part in well-being and overall health. Getting enough sleep can help improve and protect a lot of aspects in your life including physical health, mental health, quality of life and safety. In adolescents and kids, sleep helps to support their growth and development.

 

Issues with sleep can result in short term and/or long term negative consequences. If someone is lacking sleep, known as sleep deprivation, it increases chances of developing chronic health issues as well as affects the way your brain works.

 

Emotionally:

Sleep aids in learning. When you sleep, new pathways are created to help you remember learned information. It also helps you in creativity, making decisions and to pay attention. On the other hand, if you are not getting enough sleep it may be difficult to control emotions, cope with change or even just with making decisions. Sleep deficiency has been tied to risk-taking behavior, depression and even suicide. For youth, sleep deficiency may result in difficulty getting along with others. It can lead to lack of motivation, depression, impulsivity, anger, or mood swings in general. If a youth is sleep deprived, it may result in them having difficulty paying attention which could lead to lower grades and stress.

 

Physically:

Sleep actually helps aid in repairing your body, specifically your heart and blood vessels. Higher risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and high blood pressure have been linked to sleep deprivation.

 

Safety:

Sleep helps you function well during the day. When someone is lacking sleep, they are less productive and can take longer to finish tasks. After several nights of losing sleep (even 1 to 2 hours) your ability to function suffers as if you have not slept for a day or two. Lack of sleep may also lead to microsleep, which is brief moments of sleep when you are typically awake. This can occur at any time. For example, you could be missing information during a lecture or could not remember the drive you just completed. Driving when sleep deprived is actually just as dangerous, if not more, as driving drunk.

 

Techniques for Getting Enough Sleep:

  • Routine: Make sure you get up and go to bed at the same time every day. For kids, have a set time for bed and bedtime routine. Do not use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishments.
  • Take an hour before bed for quiet time. Try to avoid strenuous exercise or any bright artificial lights (such as your phone, TV or computer screens). The light signals the brain to be awake.
  • Avoid heavy meals, alcoholic drinks, nicotine and caffeine within a few hours of bedtime (snacks are ok). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants which can interfere with sleep.
  • Spending time outside and being physically active during the day can help regulate your sleep!
  • Keep your room quiet, cool and dark when sleeping (or with a dim light if needed).
  • Find ways to relax before bed, such as taking a hot bath.

 

Recommended Amount of Sleep:

  • Infants 4-12 months: 12-16 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children 1-2 years: 11-14 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children 3-5 years: 10-13 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children 6-12 years: 9-12 hours a day
  • Teens 13-18 years: 8-10 hours a day
  • Adults 18+ years: 7-8 hours a day

 

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep is essential to live a healthy life! Take care of yourself and make sure you get a good night’s rest every night.

 

More information such as recommended amount of sleep for different age groups, techniques for getting enough sleep and more can be found here.

 

 

Jacquelyn Provenzola, MSW Intern

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