Yawn! Stretch! Yawn! Nod! Sound familiar? It sounds like something I go through multiple times a day. How many of you nod off while reading or watching TV? Do you ever feel like someone sucked the energy right out of you? Do you find it hard to concentrate or be productive? If you can answer yes, you are like me. I feel like that more often that I should. I’m often sleepy and tired and just worn out. If you are reading this and thinking, “She sure sounds like she doesn’t get enough sleep to me,” you would be right. I’m part of a growing group of Americans; I am getting too little sleep.
The stories are on the morning or evening news almost weekly. The internet buzzes with articles with the same trending topic – a large group of the population does not get enough sleep. Advice is everywhere, countless groups and individuals want to fix this problem for us. (We’ll even talk about that tomorrow.) Almost everyone agrees there is a problem and everyone is calling for the sleepless to get more sleep. We can all recognize the classic stereotypical signs of getting too little sleep, but there are so many more things that can go wrong when you are getting too little sleep. The reasons for getting more sleep might surprise some of you.
How do you know if you actually fit into this group of people who are getting too little sleep? Studies are continually changing recommended sleep times; in fact, another change to recommended sleep times was announced just recently. Recommended sleep times vary with your age. The National Sleep Foundation has released these guidelines: for younger adults, ages 18-25, the sleep range is now 7-9 hours. For adults, ages 26-64, the sleep range remains 7-9 hours. For older adults, ages 65+, the sleep range is 7-8 hours. Remember these are general guidelines and some people will need more sleep. If you aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep, here are a few points to consider:
Decreased productivity is one of those obvious, classic, stereotypical signs of getting too little sleep. When given concentration and memory tests individuals getting too little sleep do poorly but report feeling no deficits in their thinking skills. Changing your lifestyle to include the recommended hours of sleep will help you be more productive. You’ll be able to focus on your work, think more clearly, which will help you get more done.
Did you know that getting too little sleep can affect the way you drive? Studies have shown that drowsy, sleep deprived driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Getting too little sleep can cause you to gain weight. What? It is true! The ability of your body to use insulin to process blood sugar correctly is diminished when you do not get enough sleep.
Want to get a handle on mood swings and overall moodiness? Getting too little sleep makes it harder to maintain a level, happy mood. Try getting more sleep. Your mood will improve.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers insufficient sleep a public-health epidemic. Getting enough sleep helps prevent disease. Getting too little sleep will make you more susceptible to disease.
This all seems easy enough to understand. The reasons to get more sleep are obvious. So why are we all still getting too little sleep?