Don’t dismiss a good night’s rest: Sleep is an important part of your overall health

Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even depression. More than a quarter of the population of the United States say they occasionally don’t get enough sleep, while nearly 10 percent say they have chronic insomnia. Sufficient sleep each night is a necessity and should be a priority for everyone.

Why is it a bad idea to consistently not get enough sleep?

Sleeping less than 7 hours a night on a regular basis can affect a person’s ability to make good decisions and increases your chance of getting into a vehicle accident. Sleep deprivation also increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and several other chronic diseases. It could even cause you to gain weight. And studies show that adults who get less than 7 hours a night increase their risk of dying at a younger age than those who get the recommended amount of sleep. Getting enough sleep is just as important to your overall health as regular exercise and healthy eating.

How much sleep should we be getting?

Adults generally need 7-8 hours a night. School-aged children need at least 10 hours, while teens need 9-10 hours each night.

Who is most at risk for not getting enough sleep?

Well, that’s a risk for everyone, but especially for anyone who works a night, evening, or rotating shift. Doctors and nurses, truck drivers, law enforcement and emergency response workers are some of the people who might have a more difficult time getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Does where you live have any impact on your sleep?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interesting map on its website that shows that getting enough sleep might depend on where you live. Adults in the southeast report getting the least amount of sleep and those in the intermountain region and upper Midwest report getting the most. In Idaho, around 70 percent of all adults said they get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. That’s pretty good!

What are some things we can do to get a healthy amount of sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, no matter what day of the week it is. Avoid large meals and physical activity as your evening winds down. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and relaxing. Finally, experts recommend that you plug in your electronic devices in a different room. If you consistently struggle to fall and stay asleep, you should talk to your medical provider because that could indicate underlying health issues.

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is a slightly edited transcript of the segment from Feb. 7.) 

Resources:

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