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Sleep Loss Is A Growing Epidemic

More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a new study in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Sleep loss is a serious problem with profound physical and economic consequences. Sleep deprivation is linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and occupational errors. Drowsiness, impaired cognitive functions, behavioral changes, reduced reaction time and selective attention may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. According to the CDC, sleep deprivation can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol. To put things into perspective, being awake at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10% which is higher than the legal limit (0.08% BAC) in all states. Over 70 million adults in the US reported sleep difficulties.

How much Sleep Do We Need?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is suggested that children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, adolescents need 9-10 hours and adults need 7-8 hours.

There are four stages in our sleep cycle: stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 (REM (rapid eye movement) sleep). The repetitive sleep cycle progresses from stage 1 to REM sleep and starts over again until we wake up. We spend almost 50% in the second stage, about 20% in REM sleep and the remaining 30% in the other stages.

What’s the quality of your sleep?

Having enough sleep is essential to help maintain optimal health and well-being by allowing the brain and body to recuperate and develop. The quality of sleep is just as significant as the duration of your rest. You might be getting enough time to sleep but a lot depends on exactly what happens during those hours. Sleep efficiency determines your overall sleep quality – a normal sleep efficiency is considered to be 85% or higher.

What is sleep efficiency?

Sleep efficiency is the ratio between the amount of time spent asleep and the amount of time in bed. Factors such as the number of times you wake up and how soon you drift back to sleep is a major contributor to your sleep efficiency.

By practicing good sleep hygiene, lifestyle adjustments, proper diet and exercise, an individual can often improve their sleep. Simple strategies may help if you’re concerned with your quality of sleep. As a general guideline before bedtime:

· Use quality mattress, pillows and sheets

· Silence is scientifically proven to be beneficial for sleep

· Reduce excessive lights to promote melatonin production

· Reduce technology usage

· Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule

· Avoid large meals

· Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine

Unlike prescription sleeping pills with sedative or hypnotic effects, sleep aids are just that – a non-psychotropic aid to help promote sleep. If you have a sleep disorder, it is recommended that you speak with a medical expert to evaluate what alternative works best for you.

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