An adult needs on average eight hours of sleep a night in order to remain healthy. Some need around 10 hours of shut eye before they can function without feeling sleepy. Children and teenagers need about 10 hours of sleep a night.
According to a survey carried out by the National Sleep Foundation, only 36 percent of white Americans and 45 percent of black Americans said they had a good night’s sleep every night, meaning that the majority of Americans are feeling sleep deprived.
Health problems caused by lack of sleep include:
Increase in weight – if you are piling it on around the middle, it may be sleep deprivation rather than diet that is the cause.
Impairment of Memory, Attention Span and Decision Making Processes - in fact, moderate sleep deprivation has the same effect on drivers that alcohol intoxication does.
Teenagers with lack of sleep can get ADHD.
Depression – people who get less sleep than they need can suffer emotional problems including depression.
Impairment of the Body's Ability to Heal Itself – sleep deprivation subdues the ability of the body to heal wounds.
Cancer – lack of sleep has been found to be linked to colon cancer, and sleeping with a night light on restricts the amount of melatonin we can produce. Melatonin is needed to help us heal and to prevent cancer and it can only be produced in total darkness. A study performed in Israel showed that women who were exposed to excess light at night (LAN) had a 73 percent increased risk of breast cancer.
How to Get More Sleep
If you are ill or taking medication, this may be interfering with your ability to sleep. Discuss with your doctor about changing your medication if you think it is altering your sleep patterns.
Keep your sleep and waking times regular and go to bed the same time every night.
Don’t drink any tea or coffee or take caffeine containing medication unless it is more than four to six hours before you are due to go to bed. Caffeine can keep you awake.
If you go to bed late, change your bedtime to an earlier time.
Don’t drink alcohol before bed.
Limit your computer usage so you aren’t up half the night surfing the internet.
Do something relaxing before bed, such as having a bath, to help you sleep.
Keep your room dark with black-out curtains and no night lights.
Don’t have a TV in your bedroom unless you can be disciplined and not watch it at night.
If you think you have a sleeping disorder, contact a medical professional.