Fatigue can be a common problem for our community. Working long hours, responding to the needs of your children, shift work (especially overnights), and interrupted sleep can all lead to poor sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recently recommended new sleep guidelines based on feedback from an expert panel and a comprehensive review of published scientific studies on sleep and health. In addition to six sleep experts, the following stakeholder organizations participated:

  • American Association of Anatomists
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American College of Chest Physicians
  • American Geriatrics Society
  • American Neurological Association
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Thoracic Society
  • Gerontological Society of America
  • Society for Research in Human Development

For many of us, these recommendations are just not happening. It’s become such a concern that getting adequate sleep has become one of the nation’s health care goals (Healthy People 2020).

 

AgeRecommendedMay be appropriateNot recommended
Newborns
0-3 months
14 to 17 hours11 to 13 hours
18 to 19 hours
Less than 11 hours
More than 19 hours
Infants
4-11 months
12 to 15 hours10 to 11 hours
16 to 18 hours
Less than 10 hours
More than 18 hours
Toddlers
1-2 years
11 to 14 hours9 to 10 hours
15 to 16 hours
Less than 9 hours
More than 16 hours
Preschoolers
3-5 years
10 to 13 hours8 to 9 hours
14 hours
Less than 8 hours
More than 14 hours
School-aged Children
6-13 years
9 to 11 hours7 to 8 hours
12 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 12 hours
Teenagers
14-17 years
8 to 10 hours7 hours
11 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 11 hours
Young Adults
18-25 years
7 to 9 hours6 hours
10 to 11 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 11 hours
Adults
26-64 years
7 to 9 hours6 hours
10 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 10 hours
Older Adults
65 years or older
7 to 8 hours5 to 6 hours
9 hours
Less than 5 hours
More than 9 hours

 

Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • 20% of vehicle crashes are related to drowsy driving.
  • Almost 30% of working adults in the United States sleep less than 6 hours per day.
  • Our ability to think is negatively affected when we don’t get the sleep we need. Studies have shown our cognitive performance after 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to blood alcohol level of 0.10 –

 

Sleep has value to:

  • Recharge our batteries. It repairs and rejuvenates our bodies.
  • Improve the function of our immune system. There was a study where live “cold” virus was placed inside the noses of test subjects. If you weren’t fatigued, you didn’t “catch cold” as easily as those who were fatigued.
  • Consolidate our memories. It codes our memories to move them from our short-term to our long-term memory.
  • Trigger the removal of wastes from the cells of our brain by washing it with cerebral spinal fluid — much like the lymphatic system removes wastes from other cells throughout our body.
  • Help regulate and control our emotions. We are less prone to responding emotionally if we are well rested.
  • Allow us to form new memories. It also helps to strip away the negative emotions that can be attached to our memories.

 

How do we have better sleep?

  • Create a nightly sleep routine. Dark room, no reading or TV in bed.
  • Avoid chronic snooze button use – falling back asleep and waking up takes too much energy and you won’t gain any deep sleep.
  • Avoid eating within 2-3 hours of sleep. It is harder for your body to wind down when it is still digesting.
  • Take a one-hour nap in advance of when you know you won’t be able to get the sleep you need.
  • Choose to sleep either less than 3 or more than 5 hours when sleep deprivation is unavoidable. If you wake up between 3 – 5 hours of sleep, you’ll be in the deepest part of your sleep cycle. When this happens, it affects our alertness.
  • Remember caffeine is a drug, not a food; use it as such.
  • Avoid caffeine within 4-6 hours of sleep onset.
  • Blue blocker sunglasses are a great idea for night shift workers. This blocks the blue rays present during sunrise that can reset your circadian rhythm.
  • Expose yourself to at least 5-7 minutes of natural sunlight daily – even if it is cloudy. This boosts vitamin D and resets circadian rhythms. Sunrise & sunset are best.
  • Exercise in the morning to boost your energy, decrease your stress hormones, and improve sleep quality — you’ll have more time in deep sleep.

 

RESOURCES:
Healthy People 2020
National Sleep Foundation

____

© Christy M. Secor, 2015 – 2016. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, contact bouncebackproject.org/contact