We all sleep, but is it healthy sleep? You may be surprised to learn that according to research by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the National Sleep Foundation, unhealthy sleep behaviors of adults in the U.S. are now a public health concern. Approximately 35% of those surveyed reported insufficient sleep (less than 6 hours) and 62% said that they experience a sleep problem several nights a week. An estimated 40-70 million Americans suffer from sleep or wakefulness disorders.
Unhealthy sleep patterns increase the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and depression. They have been linked to traffic accidents, occupational hazards and reduced productivity. Factors contributing to poor sleep hygiene include 24-hour access to media and technology, unconventional work schedules, and medical issues such as chronic pain or obstructive sleep apnea.
Healthy sleep is vital to good health and emotional well-being:
During sleep, our brains are active and our bodies replenish themselves. There are five stages of sleep: stage 1 is light sleep; in stage 2 the brain waves are slower; stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep; and stage 5 is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, when breathing and heart rate increase, blood pressure rises, and we dream. This cycle takes 90 to 110 minutes and repeats three to five times a night for healthy sleep. Most adults experience occasional insomnia, due to stress or worry or excitement, but if you are frequently unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, or if you suspect that your sleep insufficiency is related to a medical issue (e.g., if you snore loudly or stop breathing regularly in your sleep,) your doctor may order a sleep study or other tests to determine a course of treatment. If you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious and you just can’t quiet your thinking, here are some things you can do to promote relaxation and restful sleep.
What are your favorite tips for improving the quality of your sleep? Leave us a comment or share a link to some online resources, and help everyone train healthy sleeping habits for improved wellness.