Good sleep is a reachable dream
In today’s modern world, too often sleep is not a priority. We’re all guilty of focusing on other aspects of health and filling our schedules with activities that impinge on sleep. World Sleep Day, on 18 March 2016, prompts all of us to make sleep a priority and look at what we can do in our lives to achieve good sleep. Globally, sleep problems represent an epidemic that can impact on the health and quality of life for up to 45% of the world’s population. Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable yet less than one third of sufferers seek professional help. Prioritising sleep and recognising the importance of good sleep, as well as a better understanding of sleep conditions and research into this area of medicine will help to reduce the burden of sleep disorders on society.
Not getting enough sleep has risks
Recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are that adults of working age should get at least seven hours sleep each night. These recommendations are based on research showing that people who average less than seven hours sleep per night are at increased risk of problems, such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. This occurs even in people who don’t feel tired during the day. On a day-to-day basis a failure to obtain quality sleep may lead to poor alertness, lack of attention, reduced concentration and decreased academic productivity while increasing the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
It’s important to understand the difference between not getting enough sleep from being too busy or not allowing enough time for sleep, and those who allow enough time, but just can’t get to sleep or stay asleep despite their best efforts. For people with insomnia, that is, difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, the risks of not getting enough sleep only appear to occur if they average less than five hours sleep per night.
Sleep quality is also important
Getting good quality sleep is just as important as getting enough sleep. Too often, I’m seeing people in my practice who haven’t been feeling well for years, and have been suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or other medical disorders that can impact on sleep that haven’t been diagnosed. They’ve been following a healthy lifestyle and getting enough sleep, but just not been feeling right. If this is you, see your health professional so that they can look for medical disorders and consider getting an opinion from a sleep specialist about whether you may have a sleep disorder.
So what should my sleep goals be?
- Make sleep a priority – The key to sleeping well is to make sleep a priority, rather than trading off sleep to do more of other things, be that exercise, diet, personal development or work.
- Ensure adequate opportunity for sleep – Aim for at least 7 hours sleep per night. This means allowing around 8 hours in bed, with some time for winding down before getting in to bed.
- Do something about poor quality sleep – If you feel that you’re not sleeping well, or still feeling tired despite getting at least 7 hours sleep per night, or not able to sleep, do something about it. Talk to your health professional and consider seeing a sleep specialist.
- See sleep as only one part of health and wellness – To feel our best we need to have balance and not be overly focussed on only one aspect of health. To often I see people who are very focussed on one aspect of health such as exercise or nutrition or sleep, but not paying enough attention to other areas.
The Sleep Wellness Quiz has been developed to help prioritise your goals to improve your sleep and health. Take the quiz and use the results to help set your sleep goals for the new year. Let us know how you go.
So take the opportunity on World Sleep Day this year to prioritise sleep and make good sleep a part of your health strategy in 2016.
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At Sleephub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a comprehensive FAQs page with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions.