Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health, but it’s also one of the most neglected. While sacrificing an hour or two of sleep because of a busy schedule or nightly TV habit may seem harmless, the negative side effects are not. Read on to learn more about the wealth of benefits that come from adequate shut eye and why you can’t afford to cut your nightly snooze short.
Sleep helps the body recover from the wear and tear that comes with each day, equipping you to fight illness, injury, stress and even serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and mental illness. It also makes you more productive and happy, and increases your mental clarity. To reap the benefits of good sleep, adults should get seven to nine hours a night, and children need even more. Babies and toddlers need 10-12 hours a night, children ages three to six years need 10 hours a night, and all children under three should nap during the day.
Consistent adequate sleep begins with a nightly bedtime routine. Establish yours by going to bed at the same time each night. Thirty minutes prior to your scheduled bedtime, turn off all screens in your home, and stop using your phone for the rest of the night. Disconnect from any activities or thoughts that make you overly excited, stressed or anxious, and engage in a relaxing activity like reading, taking a bath or sipping on herbal caffeine-free tea. By the time you turn the lights out you should be able to fall asleep within minutes.
If you establish a nightly bedtime routine but still can’t fall asleep, or experience trouble focusing, grogginess or irritability during the day, you may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, nightmares, night terrors, narcolepsy, snoring or restless legs syndrome. While overcoming a sleep disorder may seem daunting, most are treatable with the help of a doctor. If you’re concerned with your sleep habits, request an appointment with one of our physicians, or learn more about the treatment options available at Baptist Health.