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Sleep - why you need enough

The Importance of Sleep Most adult people seem to need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. This is an average, and it is also subjective. You probably know how much sleep you need in an average night to feel your best. 

A way to check on whether you are getting enough sleep is to pay attention to how long it takes you to get to sleep.  When you average 10-15 minutes before falling asleep, you're getting enough sleep.  If you fall asleep when you head hits the pillow, you need more sleep.  (If it takes you longer to get to sleep, then that means something needs to be handled nutritionally.0  There are different reasons for these phenomena. See Sleeplessness - The inability to get enough Sleep.) 

The amount of sleep you need decreases with age. A newborn baby might sleep 20 hours a day. By age 4 the average is 12 hours a day. By age 10 the average falls to 10 hours a day. Senior citizens can often get by with 6 or 7 hours a day. 

Two other things are known to happen during sleep. Growth hormone in children is secreted during sleep, and chemicals important to the immune system are secreted during sleep. You can become more prone to disease if you don't get enough sleep, and a child's growth can be stunted by sleep deprivation. 

Sleep gives the body a chance to repair muscles and other tissues, replace aging or dead cells, etc.   Missing out on sleep not only affects work performance, but also can wreak havoc with our health. In addition to raising stress hormones, sleep deprivation could foster diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and memory loss, and it could cause you to age prematurely.  Other ill effects of sleep deprivation include impaired motor skills, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and making decisions, as well as irritability and other mood problems.

We saw earlier how exercise is important. Well, unless sleep is adequate, you don't feel like exercising.

Things that help.  

1. Put sleep on your schedule. As hard as it may be to put away your "to do" list, make sleep a "priority." You'll thank yourself in the morning.  

2. Unwind early in the evening Try to deal with worries and distractions several hours before bedtime. 

3. Keep regular hours Go to bed around the same time each night and wake up close to the same time each morning even on weekends.

4. Create a restful place to sleep  Sleep in a cool, dark room that is free from noises that may disturb your sleep.

5. Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation It's difficult to sleep on a bed that's too small, too soft, too hard, or too old.

6. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help relieve daily tension and stress but don't exercise too close to bedtime or you may have trouble falling asleep.|

7. Cut down on caffeine, smoking and alcohol Consuming stimulants in the evening can make it more difficult to fall asleep

See our article on Sleeplessness

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