I’m such a night owl. I hate going to bed early and most importantly I hate waking up early. But, with age I’m realizing that sleep is a very important thing and that it’s critical we monitor our sleep patterns and understand how to develop healthy habits especially when it comes to sleep. Otherwise, with age you will begin to notice a plethora of health problems because of inadequate sleep.
Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when a person lacks a proper amount of sleep; it can be chronic or acute. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause many problems to a persons health as he/she ages. In fact, studies have connected lack of sleep with a deterioration of the brain causing the brain to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Lack of sleep drastically affects the brain and its cognitive functions. Sleep deprivation causes the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that helps with working memory and logic and reasoning, to work on overtime. Studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex works harder in sleep deprived patients versus patients who slept a proper 8 hours of sleep. This proves that lack of sleep makes your body and mind work on overdrive to compensate for the negative affects caused by sleep deprivation. Many studies have also linked lack of sleep to serious health issues such as weight gain and loss, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and mental illness.
It is very important to get into the habit of sleeping early or on time to avoid dealing with some of the crippling effects of sleep deprivation. Primary school children need about nine to 10 hours sleep ensure proper functioning while at school. By increasing your childrens sleep schedule by only 30 minutes to an hour proves to dramatically improve performance in school. Teenagers require 9-10 hours of sleep. I know it’s especially difficult to convince your teenage children to sleep early, trust me, I was once a teenager and many nights I stayed up all night online and chatting on MSN or ICQ (I know I am really old now). It’s critical that teenagers get the proper amount of sleep due to the many societal pressures of making the right decisions during their youth. Finally, adults need about 8 hours of sleep.
With age, we naturally tend to require less sleep, however, you should be mindful of getting the required amount of sleep to avoid serious health issues. Avoid taking sleeping aids/pills as they form an unnecessary dependence and ultimately affects your natural biological clock. There are many things that you can personally do to help yourself fall asleep naturally. I find the best thing that works for me is having a late evening gym session before dinner. By the time I get back home, eat food, and then shower I am so exhausted that as soon as I lay my head on the pillow I am up the next morning at 7:00am without an alarm clock. Help yourself get into a better routine with your sleeping patterns. Find ways to get a better nights sleep and witness an overall improvement in your health.