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The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Wong Shu Lee  

|

  March 17, 2022

World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year with the aim to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. 

 

Everyone feels better after a good night’s rest. Do you know how much sleep you actually need? 

 

Based on research, below are the adequate sleeping-hours break down into nine age-specific categories: 

 

  • 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.
  • Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.

 

Though genetic, behavioral and environmental factors will affect how much sleep an individual needs for their best health and daily performance, having a minimum of seven hours of sleep daily is a step in the right direction to improve your health. 

 

Shorting yourself on shut-eye has a negative impact on your health in many ways. Some of the short-term problems may 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. 

 

If you continue to operate without enough sleep, you may see more long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive. 

 

How To Sleep Better? 

 

If you’re experiencing mild, occasional problems with sleep, try these simple strategies. 

 

Stick to a sleep schedule

 

Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don't need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal.

 

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle.

 

Pay attention to what you eat and drink

 

Don't go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals, as well as excessive liquid within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.

 

Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.

 

Create a restful environment

 

Keeps your sleeping room cool, dark, and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.

 

Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.

 

Include physical activity in your daily routine

 

Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too. Avoid being active too close to bedtime, however. 

 

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve. 

 

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