I don’t get enough sleep. Actually, no one does. According to the CDC, “insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.” Yes, you read that correctly. It’s an epidemic. I don’t think my lack of sleep is that bad, but there are definitely people who suffer as a result.
There are so many different factors that contribute to this. Personally, it’s just my life. Between my work schedule, my husband’s work schedule, the toddler and just the need to be a wife and mom, I don’t have time for much else. I try to sleep when the kid sleeps but that doesn’t always work out the way I expect it. And I don’t think my boss would appreciate impromptu nap times at my desk. For other people, lack of sleep could be caused by medication, diet (maybe too much caffeine, for example), 24/7 connectivity – damn you smartphones! – or any other multitude of factors.
But, a lack of sleep is about so much more than being rested. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from conditions like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and depression. I don’t know about you, but when I get enough sleep, I feel like a completely different person, emotionally and physically. When something as simple as sleep can make such a difference in our lives, why don’t we make an effort to get more of it? Maybe we just don’t know how much sleep we need.
The NIH suggests the following guidelines:
School aged children: at least 10 hours a day
Teens: 9 to 10 hours
Adults: 7 to 8 hours.
On average, I get anywhere from 5 to 6 hours a night, but I function best when I get about 9 hours a night. But back to my original question. Why don’t we get more sleep? It’s just sleep! It’s so easy to do! My answer? Life. We want to get as much done as possible. If that means staying up all night to get that stuff done, that’s what we’ll do. Or maybe we just want to watch one more episode of Downton Abbey (my current binge watching guilty pleasure) and before you know it, it’s 3 am and we have to be at work at 5 am. Maybe, it’s the only personal time you can have after the rest of your family goes to sleep.
Who knows? We just need to make sure that we make strides to get more sleep. It’s one of the first steps to improving our overall health. If getting a couple more hours of sleep can extend my life and help me manage my pre-diabetes and high cholesterol, I’m all for it.
In 2015, I’m going to strive to get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Will I do it every night, probably not. But if I can do it at least a few times a week, it’ll be worth it.