Are you sleeping enough? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one third of people in the United States are getting less than the recommended hours of sleep on a regular basis. In addition to that, one in three of those that are sleeping long enough report that their quality of sleep is poor or interrupted.
Sleep isn’t meant to be a luxury; your health depends on it. This is when your body has a chance to recharge and rejuvenate. Poor sleeping habits are linked to many chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression and more. Obviously, any of these conditions will affect the quality of your life, but can ultimately shorten it. Seemingly less dramatic, sleep has a profound affect on mood and productivity. Are you feeling drained and irritable? This will affect the mood of those you are close to.
Did you know your immune system is affected by sleep? Studies show that inadequate sleep will lower your resistance to bacteria and viruses like bronchitis and influenza. Getting less than seven hours of sleep increases your likelihood of getting sick by 300%!
So, how much sleep do you need? It actually varies according to your age. The CDC has charted what the research has shown. (Taken from www.cdc.gov)
These numbers only show the amount of sleep you should be getting per night. However, sleep quality is equally important! If you are getting enough hours of sleep, but still aren’t feeling rested, something is interfering.
There are many sleep disorders that can cause interruption in your sleep patterns. Everything from snoring or grasping for air to those creepy-crawly restless legs can take those hours of sleep and keep them from being useful to your body.
Here are the best tips for getting the most of your sleep. This punch list may make me unpopular, but both the CDC and sleepeducation.org refer to these items as “sleep hygiene.”
Age Group Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
Newborn 0–3 months, 14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation) No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
Infant 4–12 months, 12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Toddler 1–2 years, 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Preschool 3–5 years, 10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
School Age 6–12 years, 9–12 hours per 24 hours
Teen 13–18 years, 8–10 hours per 24 hours
Adult 18–60 years, 7 or more hours per night
61–64 years, 7–9 hours
65 years and older, 7–8 hours
Consistency is key! Regulating your sleep cycles pays major dividends. This means going to bed and waking up the same time every night. Yes, this means an early Friday night and Saturday morning!
Leave the phones out of the bedroom. We’re all guilty of this. Besides the fact that this behavior can affect relationships with our significant others, studies show that the blue light emitted from devices may affect our sleep cycles. I won’t dive down the rabbit hole of sleep cycles, brain waves and rapid eye movements involved with this, just know that its important. Yes, this also applies to TV’s, so turn your Netflix off early.
Exercise! There’s a 4-letter word, right? But sleep is yet another reason why exercise is important to our daily lives. What and how much you eat and drink before bed will also have a profound affect on your sleep quality.
Consult a chiropractor. Even if you don’t think pain is what is waking you up at night, one of the most frequent and early accolades we receive from our patients is “I feel like I’m sleeping so much better!” Chiropractors do much more than move bones, we are making sure that your nervous system is free of interference. We can also focus on the part of the nervous system referred to as “parasympathetic.” This is known as the “rest and digest” part of your system, the brake pedal if you will. We will discuss this more another time. Our goal is, when possible, help you sleep naturally without drug intervention.
If you believe you are doing ALL the aforementioned items properly, it may be time to talk to a physician about your sleep problems. Most will ask you to start a 7-10 day sleep diary. Here’s how that works.
Record the time of the following items each day:
Go to bed
Go to sleep (estimate)
Get out of bed
Consume caffeinated beverages
Having a healthy relationship with your sleep will pay dividends to your health overall. Your mood, health, productivity and relationships will all benefit from taking steps toward proper sleep! So, curl up and count some sheep, and be well!
I hope this article finds you well. If you have any questions or would like to reach me at my office, we are located at 1112 Calhoun Street, Newberry. Office number is 803-597-5099.
Dr. W.C. Verch runs Carolina West Clinic of Chiropractic, 1112 Calhoun Street, Newberry, you can reach him at 803-597-5099.