How many hours of sleep did you get last night? If you're like many Americans, probably not enough. According to a study from the CDC, 1/3 of Americans don't get enough sleep. Even if you don't think you need the recommended 7-8 hours each night, your body likely disagrees with you. Not only does sleep deprivation affect your mental and emotional state, but it also affects your physical health as well.
Sleepy workers are likely, at least in part, to blame for the Challenger explosion, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill (1). Drowsy driving is also very dangerous and common, with 1 in 25 drivers reporting falling asleep at the wheel within the last 30 days (2). In 2013, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration blamed nearly 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths on sleepy drivers (3).
Sleep also affects your physical health. Sleep isn’t just “down time”—it’s a critical time for your heart and vascular system to rest. Those who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to gain weight, consume more calories during the day, have higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and increased sweet cravings. Sleep deprivation affects your hunger hormones, making you more hungry and less likely to feel full. When you are sleep deprived, you may also not have enough energy to exercise, so even if you are awake a few more hours, you’re not likely to use that time at the gym. Sleep deprivation affects children in the same well, with effects on memory and concentration, hunger, and weight.
So how many hours do you need a night? According to the National Sleep Foundation (4).
Toddlers 11-12 hours
Preschoolers 10-13 hours
School-Age 9-11 hours
Teenagers 8-10 hours
Adults 7-8 hours
In future Healthy Habits blogs, I’ll talk about sleep disorders that may affect your health.
Preventing health problems is a great reason to get to bed early tonight!