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Sleep: Getting a Good Night’s Worth

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Like good nutrition and exercise, adequate sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation is an unrecognized cause of many problems; including accidents, illness, and poor job performance. It affects many people, and it is on the rise. One should be aware of how one’s sleep habits could affect one, and what one can do to get a good night’s sleep.

So, how much sleep do you really need? In general, most adults need about 7 hours of sleep per night. Children and adolescents need even more; around 9 hours or 10 hours per night. However, the amount of sleep people need varies widely, ranging from 5 hours to 10 hours per night. The important thing is to find out how much sleep you need to stay healthy and alert, then try to get this amount of sleep every night. The right amount of sleep is the amount that lets you wake up feeling refreshed and well. You may be able to function on the amount of sleep you are getting now, but it may not be enough for you to reach your full potential.

There are certain signs that can alert you that you are not getting enough sleep:

  • You need an alarm clock to wake up;
  • You sleep longer and better on weekends;
  • You have trouble getting out of bed in the morning;
  • You feel tired during the day, and have bags or dark circles under your eyes;
  • You doze off while sitting in a public place, such as a movie theater or meeting;
  • You get drowsy while driving, you have trouble concentrating, and you have early morning headaches.

If you noticed any of these signs, you may not be getting enough sleep. Try to gradually increase the amount of sleep you get each night until you find the right amount. You will know that you have got it when these signs start to go away. If you have not been getting enough sleep for a long time, it may take a while to recover. If you have tried everything and still have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder.

Your sleep problems may be due to a medical condition or one of the medications you are taking. Most sleep problems can be diagnosed and treated safely and effectively. You may want to keep a “sleep diary” for a couple of weeks before your visit to the doctor. This will help you describe your problem thoroughly to the doctor. It may also help your doctor identify patterns in your sleep.

Doctors usually advise to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, including weekends, avoid taking long naps during the day, do some exercise and take a hot bath before going to bed, avoid caffeine and medications that may keep you awake, get a comfortable mattress, and most importantly: Do not feel guilty about going to bed and leave your worries and thoughts outside the bedroom. Think of sleep as an investment in your health and productivity.

References
www.webmd.com
www.helpguide.org

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