Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

30 Dec

“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.”  ~ Leonardo da Vinci

For many, there is no bigger pain in the entire world than the sound of their alarm clock rousing them from a beautiful, deep slumber.

Do you get up or hit the snooze button?  Are you lazy if you slept eight hours and don’t get up? Well, perhaps not.  New research shows that your desire for more sleep may not come from laziness at all.  It may be genetic. More on that in a moment, but first, how much sleep do you really need?

The amount of sleep your body needs is the amount that results in you feeling fully rested and alert. According to a report by ABC News, if you find yourself sleeping in on weekends, then your body may be catching up on lost sleep time. On one hand, some researchers recommend trying to sleep more during the week to balance out your sleep schedule so you sleep the same number of hours on weekends. A short 25-minute nap in the afternoon can help make up for a sleep deficit during the week. On the other hand, Dr. W. Christopher Winter, medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, thinks there’s no harm in sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday morning to make up lost time. But, that may not be such a good idea for some people. We’ll cover that later too…

How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults sleep 7-9 hours per night, teenagers sleep 8.5-9.5 hours per night, and children (ages 5-10 years old) sleep 10-11 hours per night. A review of 16 long-term studies published in the journal Sleep found that both short sleepers (under 7 hours) and long sleepers (over 9 hours) lived shorter lives than those who slept 7-9 hours per night. This may be the basis for the CDC’s 7-9 hour recommendation.

Inadequate sleep can negatively affect your heart, lungs, kidneys, appetite, metabolism, immune system, reaction time, mood, and brain function. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (and all the health problems associated with that disease) because inadequate sleep affects insulin sensitivity.

A study of 24,000 Japanese women found those who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to develop breast cancer while a study by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found men who slept less than six hours a night were at a higher risk for potentially cancerous colorectal polyps.

Another study found lack of sleep might cause relationship problems. This research from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) found that couples fight more and are less healthy after a bad night’s sleep.  “For the first time, to our knowledge, we can see the process of how the nature, degree, and resolution of conflict are negatively impacted by poor sleep,” said Dr. Serena Chen, a Professor of Psychology at UCB.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you sleep less than seven hours a night but you feel rested and alert when you wake up, that may be fine too. In fact, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco discovered individuals with a mutation to the DEC2 gene can function well on five or six hours a night, with no apparent adverse effects.

Oversleeping May Be Just As

Bad As Not Getting Enough Sleep!

Interestingly enough, sleeping over nine hours a night can lead to many of the same problems as sleeping too little. Long sleepers are at risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, back pain, depression, and heart disease. If you tend to wake up before your alarm clock and you feel rested, get up and start your day. Forcing yourself to sleep in may do you more harm than good.

If it’s true that some people may genetically need less sleep, then the opposite is likely true as well: some of us may be genetically predisposed to needing more sleep than the “average” person. So, if you need more than nine hours of sleep to feel rested and alert, that may be okay.

Irregular Sleep Patterns May Be A Problem Too!

People with irregular work schedules (that, in turn, lead to irregular sleep patterns) may also experience health problems. One study recently found that females working shift patterns are associated with an increase risk of menstrual disruption and subfertility. The study collected data on 119,345 women from 1969 – 2013 and found that those working shifts (alternating shifts, evenings and nights) had a 33% higher rate of menstrual disruption than those working regular hours, and an 80% increased rate of subfertility.

In a nutshell, you must get the proper amount of sleep to be healthy. One of the biggest things we can take from this study is that the proper amount of sleep is individual.  It is not “8 hours.”  We are all different, and you must figure out what the proper amount of sleep is for you.

We all know people who can sleep five hours and wake up with a full charge. Five hours might be optimal for them, and that is awesome.  However, you might need eight, nine, or even more.

If you’re the type who has trouble getting restful sleep, here are some tips:

Regular exercise is often advised to improve sleep. Some experts recommend you try exercising earlier in the day, others think the evening before bed is a better idea. See what works best for you. Stress and anxiety can affect sleep and exercise has been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety, even if you don’t really want to work out.

Eating before bed may trigger acid reflux or an upset stomach that can hinder sleep. However, consuming a relaxing food or beverage (like a warm glass of milk) may help you fall asleep.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking before bed as they can disrupt sleep patterns.

Take a hot bath, shower, or sauna before bed. This will raise your body temperature and cooling off facilitates sleep. The temperature drop from getting out of the bath signals to your body that “it’s time for bed.” On the same note, keep the room cool. Lower temperatures help with sleep.

Get out of bed. If you are having trouble falling asleep, get up and do something else. Don’t linger in bed and fret about not being able to fall asleep because it could develop into an even bigger sleeping problem.

Turn off the lights. Complete darkness (or as close to it as possible) is best. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes.

Consider a “sound machine.” Listen to the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to drown out upsetting background noise and soothe you to sleep.

Try to sleep a consistent number of hours each night. While it may be okay to catch up on sleep during the weekends, if you can’t sleep Sunday night because you slept in on Sunday morning, that can be a problem.

Increase your melatonin. If you can’t increase levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime and absolute complete darkness at night, consider supplementation.

Last but not least, health conditions like back pain or neck pain can interfere with a good night’s sleep so make sure to get adjusted regularly to help keep your body functioning optimally so you can sleep restfully.

Don’t forget, if you ever have any questions or concerns about your health, talk to us. Contact us with your questions. We’re here to help and don’t enjoy anything more than participating in providing you natural pain relief.

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