Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, but most people don’t get enough of it. The amount of sleep needed differs from one person to the next, depending on age, level of activity and overall health. Generally, adults need seven to
eight hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed and function well. Teens and school-age children should get at least nine hours of sleep each night. Preschoolers need 10 to 12 hours a night.
A lack of sleep impairs performance. It reduces alertness, concentration, judgment, motivation, work efficiency, attention span and normal reaction time. Someone who loses sleep may become irritable and clumsy the next day. He or she may tire easily or speed up because of adrenaline.
Other symptoms of fatigue and sleep deprivation in adults include:
- constant yawning
- dozing off when inactive or bored
- grogginess in the morning and throughout the day
If you’re not sleeping well, it might be that you’re worried about something or that you play your “to-do” list in your head at night. Lifestyle choices may be a factor—drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed ranks among the most common reasons for sleep deprivation.
Causes of sleep deprivation can also include:
- work schedule
- acting as a caregiver
- sleep disorders (such as snoring or sleep apnea)
- a noisy or uncomfortable environment
Secrets to success
The good news is that sleep deprivation is preventable, but it probably means making some lifestyle changes.
How can you get more sleep?
- Go to bed earlier.
- Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages too close to bedtime.
- Improve your environment—make it quiet, dark, cool and comfortable.
- Turn off the TV.
- Develop a nightly routine, including relaxation techniques, reading, listening to music or taking a bath.
- Seek the help of your health care provider.
Kids and sleep
Lack of sleep affects children differently than adults. They tend to speed up when they’re sleepy and may display some of the following behaviors:
- temper tantrums
- moodiness and irritability
- exploding at the slightest provocation
- taking daytime naps
- grogginess and reluctance to get out of bed in the morning
Get more ZZZs
Contact your VISN 9 health care provider if you or someone you love is having trouble sleeping.