Beep beep beep! It’s your alarm. You squint, it says 5:00 am. The morning air hits your hand as you try to hit snooze. You think about extending your nap for another 5 minutes. Your body is an avid supporter of the extra snooze. “4 hours of sleep was not enough rest!” it argues. The brain is not having any of that, “We have so much to do today.”
You drag yourself out of bed. You take a cold shower, it makes you more alert.
Most adults are leading a fast-paced life. We have so many demands on our time. Jobs, family, errands and a lot more tasking activities. Needless to say, all that does not fit in the measly 24 hours a day that we have. We often sacrifice sleep in order to fit everything we set out to do in a day but we forget that sleep, apart from helping us feel rested, affects both our physical and mental performance.
1. A good night sleep helps you get sick less often
You’ve had the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Now couple that apple with a siesta and you don’t have to worry about medical bills. This is because when your body gets enough rest, your immune cells get the rest they need to fight off illnesses.
2. Getting enough sleep helps you stay at a healthy weight
Forget hitting the gym, hit the sack! When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite and reduces the production of leptin, a hormone that tells you you’re full. Get enough sleep and you will have the energy to resist that midnight snacking.
3. Good sleep helps you think more clearly and do better in school and at work
Contrary to popular belief, burning the midnight oil does not make you the model employee or student. Sleep has been known to increase cognitive function and concentration. Both of which you need to reach the level of activities that require high concentration during the day like drivers and machine operators, that extra hour of sleep might help you avoid accidents caused by drowsiness.
4. Getting enough sleep reduces stress and improves your mood
Need I say more? No one is more cranky than a person who has not had enough sleep. When you’re not well-rested, even the smallest challenges can set you off. Take that nap, hit snooze and everyone will thank you for it.
5. Adequate sleep improves memory
Don’t stay up to study for that test or prepare for that important presentation. Trust me, it is very counterproductive. A drowsy mind has trouble processing and retaining information. If you don’t get enough sleep, who knows where those memories go. Or worse, your mind might actually create false memories.
How much sleep does an adult need?
Most adults need 7 or more hours of good-quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. It is not only about total hours of sleep. The trick is to achieve a regular schedule of good-quality sleep. If you often have trouble sleeping or if you often still feel tired after sleeping, talk with your doctor.
How much sleep do children need?
Children need even more sleep than adults:
- Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night
- School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night
- Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day (including naps)
- Toddlers need to sleep between 11 and 14 hours a day (including naps)
- Babies need to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day (including naps)
- Newborns need to sleep between 14 and 17 hours a day
Why can’t I fall asleep?
For a lot of people, the decision to stay awake past their bedtime is not voluntary. It is a result of them having trouble falling asleep. There are many things that can make it harder for you to sleep, including:
- Stress or anxiety – One of the keys to smoothly falling asleep is relaxation. If you are feeling anxious or stressed before bedtime, it is advised that you try some relaxation techniques like listening to soothing music to help you drift to sleep.
- Certain health conditions, like heartburn chronic pain or asthma – These conditions come with enough discomfort to disrupt your sleep. Making small adjustments like changing your sleeping position might elevate your discomfort.
- Caffeine from coffee, tea, and soda – Caffeine is a stimulant. This means that it will without a doubt make it harder for you to fall asleep. Tempting as it may be to reach for that cup of tea before bedtime, you probably shouldn’t.
- Sleep disorders – These are a group of disorders that affect your ability to fall asleep on a regular basis. Depending on the type of sleep disorder, people may have a difficult time falling asleep and may feel extremely tired throughout the day.
How can I tell if I have a sleep disorder?
Sleep disorders can cause many different problems. Keep in mind that it’s normal to have trouble sleeping every now and then. People with sleep disorders generally experience these problems on a regular basis.
Common signs of sleep disorders include:
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Still feeling tired after a good night’s sleep
- Sleepiness during the day makes it difficult to do everyday activities, like driving or concentrating at work
- Frequent loud snoring
How can I get adequate sleep?
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, try making changes to your routine to get the sleep you need. You may want to:
- Change what you do during the day — Get your physical activity in the morning instead of at night and limit your screen time as it gets closer to your bedtime.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment — Ensure that your bedroom is dark and quiet. Cranking up the fan or cracking open a window to lower the temperature of the room also makes it a good sleeping environment
- Set a bedtime routine — Go to bed at the same time every night. This will condition your body to feel sleepy at the same time every night and achieve a regular sleep pattern.
- Pauses in breathing or gasping while sleeping.
- Tingling or crawling feelings in your legs or arms at night that feel better when you move or massage the area.
- Feeling like it’s hard to move when you first wake up.