The average adult human needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to be fulfill their sleep needs.
Over one-third of Americans, however, admit to getting less than the recommended amount.
This is a trend that is easily ignored, but can lead to some serious consequences for your health.
Sleep deprivation increases your chance for health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress, high blood pressure, and obesity according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
One of the scarier long term mental risk factors of sleep deprivation is Alzheimer’s.
The protein beta-amyloid, which is linked to Alzheimer’s, accumulates in the body when a person is awake.
Sleep helps clean beta-amyloid proteins from the brain.
On top of the long-term health side effects, sleep deprivation is creating a zombie workforce.
In fact, loss of productivity due to sleep costs the United States economy over $411 billion dollars annually.
To put things in perspective – the entire 30-year service life of the NASA Space Shuttle program (1981-2011) adjusted for inflation cost about $196 billion dollars, just shy of 50% of what sleep deprivation robs from the GDP each year.
Unfortunately, even with these facts, sleep doesn’t seem to be a lifestyle priority in US culture.
During sleep, your body does the majority of its healing and restores important chemical balances.
According to health.com, sleep can also help improve memory and sharpen skills learned while awake using a process called memory-consolidation.
It doesn’t stop there.
Along with the many mental side effects, sleep deprivation takes a heavy physical toll as well.
For example, sleep deprivation causes the release of cortisol.
Excess amounts can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
The term “beauty sleep” is no joke 🙂
Add on top of this the fact that getting a proper night’s sleep will help you maintain a healthy weight, spur creativity, and curb feelings of anxiety it becomes clear why getting seven to nine hours of sleep should be as important as the food you eat or exercises you perform.
Many Americans do, however, want to get the proper amount of sleep, but can’t seem to fall asleep when they finally do choose to put head to pillow.
Here are some of the common reasons people lie awake at night:
- Consumption of sugar, alcohol, or caffeine before bed.
- Medical conditions such as:
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Psychiatric issues
- Short-term illness
- Environmental factors such as:
- Ambient light from outside.
- Loud neighbors.
- Proximity to roadways and city noise.
Understanding the importance of getting the proper amount of rest, how it can affect your work and personal life are important.
If you are struggling to fall asleep, here are some useful tips on how to get a better night’s sleep.
- Avoid heavy meals within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
- Create a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
- Limit your daytime naps to 30 minutes.
Find out more about the impact sleep debt is having on America’s mental and physical health in the infographic below: