Life offers us 24 hours a day. Yet amidst the barrage of responsibilities, opportunities and distractions that engage us these days, time devoted to sleep often gets compromised. While 76 percent of Americans say they want to improve their sleep, the seven to nine hours recommended for adults by the NIH, the CDC and sleep experts eludes the vast majority. Furthermore, a significant number of children, including 70 percent of teens, are not getting the sleep they require for health, development and learning. Human biology is not changing anytime soon, so we need to reallocate our time and modify our behaviors to ensure we get sufficient sleep.
The question we must each ask of ourselves is, “Is sleep a waste of time or is time a waste without sleep?” Our bodies and brains are screaming out to tell us that inadequate sleep, both quantity and quality, is not sustainable and devalues the way we function during our waking hours. Science confirms that what happens while we sleep is critical for our health and wellbeing.
Each of us must take heed because no one can sleep for you but you. Recognize the sleep habits that may be impairing your sleep. Are you on your cell phone or other tech devices in the hour before bed? If so, you’re likely compromising the biological system that was designed to foster sound sleep. Do you or your bed partner snore or gasp for air during sleep? That could indicate sleep apnea. Seek medical attention for diagnosis and treatment if a sleep disorder is suspected so you can get a good night’s rest.
Build better habits
In order to make the best of your waking hours, sleep is time well spent. You need to make a commitment to honor your sleep with good habits, including keeping a consistent bedtime and wake time to stay in sync with your circadian rhythm, tuning out from technology and TV about an hour before bed so you can transition to sleep in peace, and not looking at the clock if you awaken during the night so you don’t activate your brain counting the hours of sleep remaining. Getting good sleep is an investment for living life to the fullest when you’re awake.