If you are one of the millions of Americans who always feels tired and a little bit groggy, you should know that you are not alone. In fact, a study done by the National Sleep Foundation in 2002 found that as many as forty-seven million adults don't get enough sleep every night, putting them at risk for injury, health, and behavior problems.
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Why aren't we getting enough sleep?
So, why aren't Americans getting enough sleep? This could be due to many factors including:
Busy schedules: Too many people fill their schedules to the max (and then some). They work, take care of their home and family, go out with friends, and spend time doing the things that they love. If they want to go out even though they have to work the next morning, they may sacrifice their sleep in order to have some fun. Others have to stay up late to finish the laundry and the dishes before the next day.
Children: Through pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children, parents lose a lot of hours of precious sleep. Even as their children age, parents don't always get their full amount of sleep because they are busy taking care of and worrying about their children.
Too many electronic distractions: Electronics are a part of our lives, but that doesn't always mean that it is good for us. Too many people struggle to fall asleep right after they use their electronics. Our brains can't shut off when we turn them off, causing many people to lie awake after they turn off their lights.
What are some of the risks of not getting enough sleep?
If you aren't getting enough sleep, you could be at risk for the following:
- You may be more likely to get sick: Your immune system may not work as well when you are sleep deprived.
- You could be involved in an accident caused by carelessness: When you are tired, your body sometimes acts like it is on autopilot. This isn't good. You could be involved in something as simple as tripping over something that was laying on the floor or you could be in an automobile accident because you were struggling to pay attention when you were driving.
- Your work is going to suffer. Your memory and concentration aren't going to be at the top of your game so you may struggle at work. You may rush through projects just to get through the day.
- You may also have heart disease. Not getting enough sleep affects your blood pressure and your heart. In fact, one study links insomnia to heart attacks and stroke.
- You may not be able to deal with your stress as well. You need to get enough sleep so that you can function properly throughout the day. It improves your mood and your outlook.
So, why is this a problem? Sleep isn't just for you. It is good for your body and mind. Your body needs time to repair and take care of itself. Getting enough sleep is an essential part of life.
Can you make up for lost sleep?
If you are not caught up on your sleep, you may be wondering if you can make up for it. Here are some things to think about.
You aren't going to make up for all of the sleep that you missed in one day. Even if you sleep in on a weekend, it isn't going to be enough and that’s not really how sleep works.
In fact, you may need to go to bed or sleep in later at least an hour or two every night until your body recovers fully. If you haven't had a good night's sleep in a while, you may need to go to bed earlier for a month or two until you start to feel better.
So, what can you do? If you are feeling the effects of not getting enough sleep every night, it is time to do something about it now (before it gets any worse). Try to go to bed an hour early every day for a few weeks and see how much better you feel. You will be amazed!