Most of us have our own little quirks about sleep.  I seem to snooze the best after dinner, when I can stretch out on the couch and watch t.v., only to wake up wondering how my program ended!  Then when I go to bed, I have trouble going to sleep!

Getting the correct amount of sleep affects the way we look, feel, and perform our daily duties.  Current studies have shown that in the past eight years, Americans are getting less than six hours of sleep per night.  Many are losing sleep over financial concerns, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll.  It seems that when you are trying to relax and get some rest, worries become amplified. 

Here are some of the risks of sleep deprivation:

  • Chances of having an accident are increased.  Drowsy drivers are as dangerous as drunk ones;
  • Health – risk of diabetes and heart problems;
  • Becoming depressed;
  • Ability to pay attention decreases;
  • Inability to react to sudden happenings;
  • Inablity to remember details;
  • Obesity from increased appetite.  Lack of sleep causes a rise in the hormone ghrelin, which increases hunger, and a decrease in leptin, our body’s appetite suppressant.

A good rule of thumb is to not exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.  Also, avoid caffeine, and understand that some alcoholic drinks act as stimulants rather than relaxants. 

It’s been shown in current studies that students perform better when they start classes a little later in the mornings, around 9 a.m.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep per night.  We adults should get between 7 and 9 hours, on week days, if possible. 

For safety’s sake, everyone should be conscientious about doing their job well and in a safe manner for their coworkers.  (Have you seen one of your coworkers fall asleep on the job?) If you have reason to think you need help with being able to sleep, see your physician.  There could be a medical reason you aren’t getting your rest, or he/she may feel you need a  prescription for a non-habit forming medication.  Do the same for someone you feel is not able to function as well as normal, possibly due to lack of rest.  A word of encouragement may be all they need to seek medical attention.

If all else fails, try my method: eat a good supper, and get interested in a good program or ballgame, and doze off!  Later, if you can’t go to sleep when you go to bed, try going back to the couch, or reading a book till you feel sleepy.  For a better quality of life, try to get a good quantity and quality of sleep.