“Sleep’s what we need. It produces an emptiness in us into which sooner or later energies flow.”
― John Cage.
Almost everyone has encountered a zombie-like feeling after a night of minimal or no sleep. Even after just one night without enough rest, we can feel drowsy during the day with slowed thinking, lack of energy, and an irritable mood.
Sleep deprivation is when you don’t get the sleep you need, and it is It’s estimated to affect most of the students, a problem that has only worsened in recent years.
Lack of sleep directly affects how we think and feel. While the short-term impacts are more noticeable, chronic sleep deprivation can heighten the long-term risk of physical and mental health problems.
If you eat well and exercise regularly, but don’t get at least seven hours of sleep every night, you may be undermining all of your other efforts.
How much sleep do you actually need?
Everyone feels better after a good night’s rest. But now, thanks to a report from the National Sleep Foundation, you can aim for a targeted sleep number tailored to your age.
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.
- Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours.
- School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.
- Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours.
- Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours.
- Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.
- New-born, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.
But a minimum of seven hours of sleep is a step in the right direction to improve your health.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
Short-term problems can include:
- Lack of alertness. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact on how you feel.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness. It can make you very sleepy and tired during the day.
- Impaired memory. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember and process information.
- Relationship stress. It can make you feel moody and you can become more likely to have conflicts with others.
- Quality of life. You may become less likely to participate in normal daily activities or to exercise.
- Greater likelihood for car accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance. Over time, it can lead to premature wrinkling and dark circles under the eyes. There’s also a link between lack of sleep and an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Cortisol can break down collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth.
So lack of sleep could mean more wrinkles! Understand why sleep is so important yet?
How to Sleep Better
If you’re experiencing mild, occasional problems with sleep, try these simple strategies to make you better.
1. Treat getting enough sleep as if it is as important as taking medicine.
With all the demands on our time every day, you might put a good night’s rest at the bottom of your priority list.
2. Keep a consistent wake time.
Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends or days off. Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night. A fixed wake time helps to build a strong desire for sleep throughout wakefulness. This sleep drive gradually builds, and shortening it by sleeping in will make it harder to fall asleep the next night. Sleeping in on the weekend makes it much more difficult to wake up earlier on Monday morning.
It also is important to do some relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime. By making these activities part of your bedtime ritual, you can train yourself to associate these activities with sleep. This association will help you to move more easily into slumber.
3. Put away the smart phones and tablets.
Electronic devices keep your mind humming — and far from the relaxed state you need to achieve before bedtime. So, keep away the gadgets at least an hour ago before sleep.
Getting frequent sunlight exposure during the day supports a healthy circadian rhythm that helps you be alert during the day and sleepy at night. Regular physical activity can also contribute to a normal sleep schedule, so try to engage in at least moderate exercise every day.