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Sleeping is something we all have to do.
Many people may not realize how sleep, or lack thereof, can truly affects our daily lives.
The amount of sleep someone needs differs due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to activity level and age.
Here are some important things to know about sleep and how it affects every aspect of our lives.
Krista's previous three columns:
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How many hours should I be sleeping?
For children, sleep is vital for their development.
Infants and toddlers need an average of 12-17 hours of sleep.
The amount of sleep needed goes down as you age.
According to the CDC, children ages 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep, ages 13-17 need about 8-10 hours of sleep each night, and young adults (ages 18-25) need between seven and nine hours.
Adolescents are notorious for not getting enough sleep due to all of the things playing out in their daily lives.
With teens, they are dealing with many hormonal shifts, which take a lot of energy from the body. Most teens do not receive the amount of sleep needed. Most only sleep around seven hours a night.
Most adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep.
Finally, once you reach the age of 65 and older, the number of hours you need drops slightly. Adults 65 and over require 7-8 hours of sleep a night for optimal function.
What happens if you don't get a sufficient amount of sleep?
Although each age group requires a certain amount of sleep for optimal functioning, this does not mean everyone reaches these goals.
Many of us lack sleep, which often shows up as symptoms in our daily life.
Some of these symptoms include forgetfulness, mood swings, trouble focusing, feeling drowsy and even weight gain.
Besides the physical symptoms, lack of sleep can also affect a plethora of activities in our life such as our work, school and driving.
Sleeping less than the required amount can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke.
Can you catch up on sleep? Is 'Sleep Debt' real?
What is sleep debt you ask?
Sleep debt is the term that refers to the amount of sleep someone needs and the amount that they receive.
For example, if your body needs nine hours of sleep, but you only receive 7 hours, you have two hours of sleep debt.
Sleep debt is cumulative, which means that it increases and grows larger.
If you are constantly missing your sleeping goal, you are racking up sleep debt.
This does not necessarily mean that you are going to feel tired. Many individuals deal with chronic sleep restriction.
Chronic sleep restriction refers to when you don’t feel tired or sleepy, but you have a decrease in physical and mental performance.
Recovering from sleep debt is often challenging.
Taking a nap is often the first action we take when we didn't get a full night's sleep.
Naps can help with the feeling of tiredness, and they can also help with working memory, learning and mental sharpness for a few hours.
However, naps are not sufficient enough for long-term sleep debt, so you must try to hit the required hours of sleep needed for optimal health.
How do sleep and fitness go hand-in-hand?
Sleep affects our exercise recovery and even our metabolism. It is crucial that our bodies receive at least 7 hours of sleep, especially if you live an active lifestyle.
During sleep, our bodies begin to recover. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.
If you lack sleep, your body is not able to carry out these functions properly, which can cause a whirlwind of problems, and increase your chances of injury.
Lack of sleep can also affect our metabolism.
Our metabolism is what converts our food into energy, and when this is affected, it can cause our bodies to not function correctly.
Research has shown that when our bodies are not receiving the right amount of sleep, our bodies will be less likely to expend fat as energy and more likely to store it when we do not get enough rest daily.
This can lead to weight gain and many other health-related issues.
How to get better sleep
We have learned why sleep is vital, and how it affects our bodies. Now it is time to learn how to achieve these goals if you are not meeting them already.
If you are trying to catch up on sleep after accumulating sleep debt, here are a few ways you can start to get back on track.
Tip 1: Be consistent. Consistency is key to anything you want to achieve in life, especially when it comes to hitting your sleeping goals.
You can become more consistent by going to bed at the same time every night and setting your alarm for the same time every morning. This even includes the weekends.
Having a schedule helps you stay on track, and make time for sleep!
Tip 2: Give it time. Getting out of sleep debt can take up to four days. Increase your sleep daily, even if it is 15-30 minutes extra a day. You will eventually get back on track and get out of your sleep debt.
Tip 3: Make your bedroom a space where you are comfortable and stress-free. You can do this by turning off the lights, keeping it at a comfortable temperature, and not using electronics in bed. We often stay up later using our electronics, which leads to sleep debt.
Tip 4: Have a nighttime routine. Avoid bright lights, electronics, caffeine and alcohol before bed. Taking a relaxing shower or bath can also decrease stress levels.
Tip 5: You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to achieve optimal health. You should do this at least 5 hours before bed. This can help you feel more tired and ready for rest.
Overall, sleep is vital for every aspect of our health.
It affects all parts of our life, and if you are not receiving enough of it, that can lead to a decrease in all of our functions.
If you or somebody you know is struggling with sleep, try these tips!
Consult a doctor if you believe your symptoms are worsening, or not getting better.
Now, get some rest!
Krista Stevens in a graduate of the University of Florida. To find out more, see:
Got questions? Contact Krista at Kristastevensemail@gmail.com
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: 'Sleep debt' is real; here's how to make sure you're getting enough sleep