July 28, 2010
These days, it seems a lot of people aren't getting the sleep they need. The first thing that tends to go when our days get busy is sleep. And many people have sleep problems such as insomnia, which makes it hard to get to sleep or stay asleep. The National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health tells us that about 30 to 40 percent of adults say they have signs of insomnia within a given year, and about 10 to 15 percent say they have long-term insomnia. But more and more studies show that getting enough good quality sleep is as important as eating well to staying healthy in mind and body.
When we sleep, the body has time to heal and restore itself. Our muscles are repaired, and our brain sorts through the things we've learned during the day. So the one-third of our lives that we spend sleeping is very important.
Missing some sleep once in a while is no big deal. But a lack of sound sleep over time can bring on serious health problems.
On average, adults need about eight hours of sleep a night. But some people do well with as little as six, while others need ten to feel their best. If you find yourself waking up with a headache, feeling groggy during the day, or feeling tired or sleepy when you drive, it's a good bet you're not getting as much sleep as you need.
Sleep that is often disturbed is not as healthful as a sound night of sleep. That's because while you are asleep, your body goes through stages that range from light to deep sleep. Repeated waking and dozing throws off that healthy pattern. That's one reason people who continue to push the snooze button rarely feel rested.
If you continue to feel signs of a lack of sleep, see your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea that will benefit from a doctor's care.