Sleep is one of the most important parts of a person’s day. However, 7 to 19 percent of adults report not getting enough sleep every night. Sleep deficiency is no joke. It can affect you even if you sleep the total recommended hours, but there are other actions you can take so that you do get enough sleep.

Why is Sleep Important?

While you’re asleep, your brain is rejuvenating and preparing for the next day’s tasks. A good night’s sleep helps people learn and retain new information. It also helps you control emotions, cope with change, and can alleviate depression and risk-taking behavior. In terms of physical health, aches and pains can be healed while you’re snoozing, and if you have a sleep deficiency, there is a higher chance for you to get diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

Here are general recommendations for how much sleep a person from each age group should get every night.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Naps

Surprisingly, naps do not provide all the benefits of regular sleep that your body needs. So, if you think you can catch up on your sleep with a few siestas throughout the week, you’ll still need to get your regular amount in addition to that. However, naps may improve alertness, motor skills, and your sex life, reduce stress, and boost your memory. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20-30 minute nap for alertness, and if it’s any longer, it could interfere with your regular nighttime sleep or leave you feeling sleepy or disoriented. So can napping too early or late in the day, which can mean that your body is not ready yet. This is all temporary though, and does not mean that it’s okay to only get four hours of sleep tonight.

Falling Asleep Faster

For those of us that struggle to get enough sleep night after night, start by giving yourself enough time to sleep. Time for shut-eye is usually the first thing people disregard when they have other things to do. Just like kids, it’s important to set a bedtime for yourself, especially if you have a certain time you need to wake up. On the weekend, try not to vary your sleep schedule or bedtime, because that will only confuse your body.

One of the tips doctors encourage the most is not using a screen with bright artificial light for up to an hour before bedtime. This can include a TV, your phone, or a laptop screen. They also tell people not to consume alcohol or large meals within the same time frame. These things usually stimulate your body or mind and make it harder to fall asleep. Even though lots of us will argue that we need to catch that last episode of The Bachelor before bed, save it!

During the day, you can try to tire yourself out more by ensuring you get lots of exercise and spend enough time outside.

It’s a commonly known myth that people can adapt and learn to function if they consistently get little to no sleep, especially when you simply “don’t have time”. However, people really do need sleep in order for their mental and physical health to be up to par. Everyone needs sleep and enough of it, too!

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