Sleep Tight - Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep
From the GIC Summer 2002 Newsletter
With today's fast pace, it seems the only way to fit everything in is to cut back on sleep. However, it may be better to cut back on your obligations instead. Sleep is essential for maintaining good health and well being. Sacrificing sleep can result in your feeling moody, impatient, and having a hard time concentrating or making decisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 200,000 auto accidents each year are related to sleep deprivation.
Although the optimal hours of sleep each night vary by individual, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. The National Sleep Foundation's 2002 "Sleep in America" Poll found that on average respondents sleep only 6.9 hours per week on weekdays and 7.5 hours on the weekend. The poll revealed that the longer people sleep on weekdays, the more likely they are to have a positive mood and attitude. It found that people who experience some form of insomnia are more likely to be:
- Shift workers
- Have children in the household
- Age 30 to 64
- In fair or poor health
Among the tips experts suggest for a good night sleep:
- Make sleep a priority - save the remaining things on your "to do" list for another day
- Keep regular hours - go to bed around the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning - even on weekends
- Unwind early in the evening - read a book, take a bath, or listen to quiet music
- Exercise - but not close to bedtime. The ideal time to exercise for sleep purposes is four to six hours before bedtime
- Create an ideal sleep environment - a cool, but not cold, dark, quiet room on a comfortable mattress is best. Be sure your clock is not a distraction. Sometimes white noise, such as a fan, can help mask distracting noise like traffic
- Don't use your bed to work, read, or watch television
- Limit time awake in bed - if you cannot fall asleep after 10 to 15 minutes, get up and do something enjoyable, but not overstimulating, and then try to get to sleep again
Some underlying causes of insomnia, long-term inability to sleep, include:
- Stress and depression
- Sleep apnea, interrupted breathing during sleep, characterized by snoring.
- Narcolepsy - characterized by falling asleep during the day and frequently having temporary muscle paralysis
- Restless legs syndrome - characterized by unpleasant crawling or prickling sensations in the legs and feet and an urge to move them for relief
Talk with your doctor is you have any extended periods of insomnia.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.