Sleep and Health

2014-11-12

Despite being told for years how important it is to get a good night's sleep, most of us in New York still consider it a suggestion we can afford to ignore. Let's face it: most of us would still choose finishing that critical report or watching another episode over getting enough quality rest. But mounting evidence of how significant sufficient sleep is to mood, productivity, and physical health might inspire you to start finally making it a real priority. Due to the depth and breadth of its impacts, the Centers for Disease Control went so far as to call sleep deprivation "an epidemic" earlier this year. Read on to learn more about the serious consequences of poor sleep.

Difficulty with memory and learning: Our ability to acquire and retain information is diminished when we don't get enough quality sleep. During deep sleep, our brains process the things we learned or practiced during the day and "strengthens" those memories, so that we can access them more easily tomorrow.

Unstable mood: Those who get an insufficient amount of sleep experience greater incidences of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, not to mention more stress and irritability. Studies show that even a small amount of sleep deprivation can greatly impact your mood.

Compromised health: Both under sleeping and oversleeping are related to a multitude of health issues and increase your risk of chronic illness and disease. Lack of sleep is linked to an increase in blood pressure, stress, and blood sugar, and a decrease in immune system function.

Decreased productivity: Thinking and perception are greatly impacted by lack of sleep, resulting in poor performance and productivity at work and school. A student with a crucial test in the morning would be better prepared by getting enough sleep than spending her time cramming.

Risk of accident and error: Not surprisingly, lack of sleep can result in increased errors and accidents, and some of these can be life threatening. Studies have shown that medical professionals make more errors when they have not gotten enough sleep. "Drowsy driving" can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and accounts for one in six deadly traffic accidents.

So, what constitutes good sleep?

Most people are familiar with the guideline that children and teenagers need approximately 9-10 hours of sleep per night, and adults should aim for 7-8 hours. But there's a little more to it than that. Pregnancy, aging, and physical health can all influence how much sleep a person needs. Healthy sleep also encompasses quality as well as quantity, meaning more time spent in deep (REM) sleep, which is the most restorative in terms of physical health and repair.

Committing to good "sleep hygiene" will ensure that you get the most out of your rest. Simple ways to improve the quality of your sleep include keeping your bedroom device and television-free, avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and large meals before bed, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Recent research has shown that the "blue light" emitted from cell phones, computers and televisions is particularly disruptive to quality sleep, so avoiding these devices for an hour before bed, and using them wisely during the day, may improve the caliber of your sleep.

For any questions about health insurance, call or contact Executive Insurance & Financial Services today.

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