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Living Short on Sleep Could Shorten Your Life

by | Sep 22, 2022 | Primary Care

There are studies and statistics indicating too little sleep can produce health issues known to shorten our lifespans. The body of research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
(AASM) informs adults they need a minimum seven hours of sleep per night. For teens, the requirement is eight to 10 hours! Sleep is not a bank of hours to borrow from in order to add
hours of productivity to your day. Sleep hours actually enhance productivity.
What happens while we sleep?
Think of sleep as your body’s reboot. Sleep is the shutdown we need each night to jump-start our day with good health and wellbeing.

● The brain lays down new pathways for learning and memory. During sleep, your brain retains the new information you loaded into it during wakefulness.
● Sleep stabilizes emotions, reducing irritability and forgetfulness.
● Too little sleep can lead to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and plaque buildup; also, increased incidence of irregular heart rhythms and heart disease.
● Limited sleep contributes to weight gain. Sleepiness during the day leads to sluggishness, which contributes to overeating as we try to increase energy.
● When we rest well, we feel refreshed. Adequate sleep allows us to focus and work more productively.
Too little sleep can be deadly.
One in five traffic fatalities in the U.S. involves a drowsy driver, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These deaths are preventable. Driving while sleepy is too common
and the AASM equates drowsiness to alcohol consumption, in the way it compromises driving ability. Inattentiveness, delayed reaction times, and poor decision-making skills are examples of
what occurs when you drive drowsy.
Develop Healthy Sleep Habits.
Here is a short list of steps toward healthier sleep.
● Maintain a sleep schedule allowing for 7-8 hours – even on weekends and vacation.
● Create a relaxing bedtime ritual.
● Avoid screen time (electronic devices) 30 minutes before bedtime.
● Avoid large meals before going to bed.
See a full list of suggestions for better sleep and learn about sleep disorders on the AASM website.

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