Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Anyone who has kids knows how important sleep — and a bedtime — can be and the difference it can make in the behavior, personality and cognitive abilities of a child the next day.

Yet when we become adults, why is sleep the first thing sacrificed when jobs and family require more time?

According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if not getting enough sleep is a regular part of your routine, you may be at an increased risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, poor mental health and even early death. Even one night of short sleep can affect you the next day. Not only are you more likely to feel sleepy, you’re more likely to be in a bad mood, be less productive at work and be involved in a motor vehicle crash, the article said.

Jeremy Holburn, the licensed therapist who answers the SMART Helpline, suggested using this emotional assessment tool as a way to tell if sleep deprivation could be affecting your mood and mental health for the day. Use the acronym H.A.L.T. to ask yourself the following questions:

Are you …? H – Hungry A – Angry L – Lonely T – Tired

If the answer is “tired,” consider this: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society said an average adult, ages 18 to 60, requires seven or more hours of sleep every night.

Make sure you’re getting quality sleep. Signs of poor sleep include feeling sleepy or tired even after getting enough hours of sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night and having symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as snoring. Better sleep habits may improve the quality of your sleep. If you have symptoms of a sleep disorder, tell your doctor.

Habits to improve your sleep include:

  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine or alcohol before bedtime.
  • Don’t use tobacco.
  • Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep easier at night.
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