The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends using this extra hour of sleep to rejuvenate your physical and mental health.
Many people face an endless list of demands and responsibilities that they put ahead of getting enough rest, but sleep debt can lead to decreased productivity at work and increased family stress.
Nancy A. Collop, MD, FAASM, Director of the Emory Sleep Center, and President-Elect of the AASM, says that sleep deprivation decreases our ability to perform daily tasks, impacting mood, reaction time, and attention levels. Chronic inadequate sleep leads to changes in metabolism, which, some research suggests, could lead to changes in cardiovascular health.
“People tend to ignore the need for sleep in order to get other things done, but sleep is as important as what you eat, how much you exercise, and other healthy lifestyle practices,” says Collop. “It’s important to acknowledge the roles that sleep plays in our daily lives, and recognize that how we feel, think and perform is all dictated by the amount of sleep we get.”
Computers, phones, TVs, MP3 players, electronic reading devices, and other forms of technology pose problems for people trying to get a good night’s sleep.
“Technology bombards us all day, and it’s hard, but important, to turn it off when it’s time for sleep,” says Collop. She suggests unplugging, disconnecting, and allowing time before bed to relax and wind down. Dr. Collop says that non-stimulating activities like listening to music, reading, or knitting can help calm the mind.
The AASM offers these guidelines for better sleep:
- Avoid “sleeping in” on the weekends, which makes it harder to wake up on Monday.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, heavy meals and exercising prior to bedtime.
- Eat a small snack before bedtime to avoid going to sleep hungry.
- Signal to your body that it’s bedtime by avoiding bright lights at night.
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and cool.
Sleep requirements vary by age. Experts recommend that children in pre-school sleep between 11-13 hours a night, school-age children between 10-11 hours per night, and teens at least nine hours per night. For most adults, seven to eight hours a night is recommended to achieve good health and optimum performance.
The AASM encourages people to discuss sleep-related problems with a primary care doctor or a sleep specialist.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is the leader in setting standards and promoting excellence in sleep medicine, health care, education and research.
To arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson, please contact Public Relations Coordinator Emilee McStay at (630) 737-9700, ext. 9345, or [email protected].