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Life + Arts March 2, 2011 //  by  // 1 Comment

Catching some shut-eye is good for you

Sleep deprivation has been found to increase the risk of depression and addiction, while also decreasing the attention span. | Photos.com

We dream of the perfect night’s sleep, but how many of us actually achieve it?

During National Sleep Awareness Week, beginning March 7 – March 13, The National Sleep Foundation, an organization based in Washington that promotes healthy sleep practices, will challenge individuals to devote more time to snoozing just before losing an hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time, according to the organization’s website.

The task may seem simple, but for the average go-getter juggling work, school and family, the challenge may seem more like a nightmare.

According to The Sleep Foundation, adults on average need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep in order for the body to function properly. Research hasn’t pinpointed the exact amount of sleep needed, but experts do agree that this figure has proved to be sufficient enough.

There are several things to consider when configuring how much sleep is necessary to get you through long classes or boring days at work.

Firstly, and most importantly, everyone is different and therefore every individual needs different amounts of sleep. Sleep needs vary depending on age, weight, gender, basal sleep need (or the amount of sleep needed on a regular basis) and sleep debt, or sleep lost from poor restless nights.

Cozy up to these facts

Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. The exact amount of sleep needed is unknown, but experts have agreed that there are rule-of-thumb rates like the following information: Newborns (0-2 months) need 12-18 hours of sleep; infants (3-11 months) need 14-15 hours of sleep; toddlers (1-3 years) need 12-14 hours of sleep; preschoolers (3-5 years) need 11-13 hours of sleep; school-aged children (5-10 years) need 10-11 hours of sleep; teens (10-17 years) need 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep and adults need 7-9 hours of sleep.

Rest easy, it’s good for you

Although basal sleep need is still a vague concept to scientists, studies have continued to prove that not sleeping enough can lead to serious health consequences and can endanger you and those close to you.

It’s dangerous being sleepy

Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of detrimental accidents. The following paragraphs list events that can occur due to a short amount of sleep, according to The Sleep Foundation’s website.

Sleep deprivation can lead to motor vehicle accidents and an increase in body mass index — losing sleep has been proven to contribute to obesity.

Not only that, an increased risk of diabetes and heart problems has been attributed to sleep deprivation.

There’s also an increased risk of psychiatric conditions, including depression, addiction and a decreased ability to pay attention and react to signals.

Sleep deprivation has also been linked to several cardiovascular diseases, according to CNN reports.

“Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing heart disease and obesity,” Dr. Michelle Miller, a co-author of the study, said in the report.

But there is still much research to be conducted before experts can make this information official. Based on the study, I wonder if it is safe to say that sleep deprivation can cause people to have a shorter lifespan.

You snooze, you lose

Studies have also shown that those who oversleep are also at risk of experiencing complications. There is not enough strong evidence to back up this information, but based on some studies, hitting the snooze button a little too much or sleep longer than nine hours, has also been linked to high mortality rates — it’s kind of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t-situation.

Either way, the effects of abnormal sleep habits can be harmful. So challenge yourself during National Sleep Week and find out if there are any positive changes.

Open your eyes; see what you’re missing

If you’re an on-the-go kind of person and don’t have time for a little R&R, then slow down, if only for next week, and try these tips:

Create a wake and sleep schedule by eating hours in advance before lying down, avoiding caffeinated drinks and creating a comfortable environment for sleep.

You may also want to begin your day early and stay busy throughout, so you can hit the bed sooner and harder.

If you cannot squeeze in a full night’s rest at night, try to get some recovery sleep during the day.

Please visit the website for more information, www.sleepfoundation.org.


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