The Importance of Sleep

Sleep

Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Here is how sleep can put you at an increased risk:

Diabetes

Research shows an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.  Specifically, sleep duration and quality have emerged as predictors of level of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control.

Cardiovascular Disease

Persons with sleep apnea have an increased risk of developing hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats.

Obesity

Research has found that short durations of sleep can result in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity.  The association between lack of sleep and excess body weight has been reported in all age groups, especially children as sleep is critical for brain development and optimal functionality.

Depression

Although the relationship between sleep and depression is still under study, recent research has indicated that depressive symptoms may decrease once sleep apnea has been effectively treated and sufficient sleep has been restored.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Although individual sleep needs can vary, below are the recommended daily sleep guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Age & Recommended Amount of Sleep:

  • Newborns = 16-18 hours a day
  • Preschool-aged children = 11-12 hours a day
  • School-aged children = At least 10 hours a day
  • Teens = 9-10 hours a day
  • Adults (including the elderly) = 7-8 hours a day

Healthy Sleep Habit Tips

Here are a few healthy sleep habits from the National Sleep Foundation you should incorporate into your daily routine.

  1. Go to bed each night at the same time and rise at the same time each morning.
  2. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
  3. Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Do not use electronic devices in the bedroom.
  4. Avoid large meals before bedtime.

For more information visit the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.htm

Article by Sam Ahrens, UWGB Dietetic Intern