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Leah McCabe

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About Author — Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

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National Sleep Awareness Week

March 8-14, 2020 is National Sleep Awareness Week. The goal is to educate the public about the importance of good sleep and encourage people to improve their sleep habits, which can improve overall health. Today, let’s talk about why sleep is important, how much sleep you need, and how you can get better sleep.  

Why Is Sleep Important?

It would be difficult to overstate just how important it is to regularly get good sleep. Here are some of the biggest reasons why sleep is important to your overall health:

  • Improved concentration and memory. Sleep is directly tied to cognition, productivity, and concentration. 
  • Stronger immune system. Some research shows that better sleep helps fight off infection. 
  • Potentially reduced risk of weight gain. Some studies have shown a correlation between obesity and poor sleep. 
  • Reduced inflammation. A link has been shown between getting enough sleep and reduced inflammation in the body. 
  • Reduced calorie intake. One study showed that “insufficient sleep reduced dietary restraint and led to weight gain in women.” 
  • May prevent depression. Studies show a link between depression and lack of sleep. 
  • Better athletic performance. That’s because the body heals during sleep. Other benefits of good sleep in regards to athletic performance include faster speed, more energy, better mental functioning, better coordination, and better performance intensity. 
  • Better social and emotional intelligence. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to struggle to recognize other people’s emotions. 
  • Reduced risk of heart disease. Good sleep allows your blood pressure to regulate itself, which can reduce your risk of heart disease. 

How Much Sleep Do I Need for My Age?

Every age group has different sleep requirements. Here are the latest recommendations for how much sleep each age group needs:

  • Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
  • Infants (4–12 months): 12–16 hours
  • Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
  • Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
  • School-age (6–12 years): 9–12 hours
  • Teen (13–18 years): 8–10 hours
  • Adult (18–60 years): 7-plus hours
  • Adult (61–64 years): 7–9 hours
  • Adult (65+ years): 7–8 hours

How Can I Get More or Better Sleep?

Many of us wish we could get great sleep, but we struggle for various reasons. Here are some tips to help you get better sleep:

  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule. Even on the weekends, you should make it a point to go to bed and get up at around the same time every day. 
  • Exercise during the day. Exercise, in general, helps you sleep better, but it can disrupt your sleep if you exercise too close to your bedtime. 
  • Unwind and clear your head before bed. Deep breathing, meditation, and “body scans” can help your brain unwind and relax to help you sleep. 
  • Learn how to get back to sleep. Limit your exposure to bright lights when you wake up in the middle of the night. Try to stay out of your head, and if you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and do a non-stimulating activity like reading a book under a dim lamp. 
  • Control your exposure to light. Try to get more natural sunlight or use a UV lamp during the day, especially in the morning. Avoid bright screens for an hour or two before you go to bed.
  • Be smart about what you eat or drink and when. Try not to eat or drink much within a few hours of bedtime and limit how much caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol you consume.
  • Optimize your sleep environment. Your room should be cool and quiet, your mattress should be comfortable, and you should only use your bed for sleep and sex. 

Want to Talk to a Doctor About Your Sleep?

If you have questions about the quantity or quality of your sleep, you can have a video or phone appointment with one of our licensed doctors for as little as your regular copay.

Simply click here or call (888) 660-1464 to schedule an appointment. 


Read More About National Sleep Awareness Week


Resources

Medical News Today. Why Sleep Is Essential for Health. Accessed on March 6, 2020 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325353

Markwald RR, Melanson EL, Smith MR, et al. Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110(14):5695–5700. doi:10.1073/pnas.1216951110. Accessed on March 6, 2020 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619301/

National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Hirshkowitz, Max et al. Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, Volume 1, Issue 1, 40 – 43. Accessed on March 6, 2020 at https://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext

Help Guide. How to Sleep Better. Accessed on March 6, 2020 at https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm

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