Lisa and Mark's Property.Bonfire.3.August, 2011My mother passed away nearly 14 years ago but I can still hear her telling me to get some sleep. Sleep is such a simple, basic need and yet one that we have little time for. Television, computers, video games, and smart phones leave us overstimulated at the end of the day and unable to attain a peaceful rest.

The National Sleep Foundation states that research shows lack of sleep can lead to serious health consequences. Some of these include:

  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
  • A greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
  • Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse
  • Decreased ability to pay attention, react, or remember new information
  • Compromised mood, performance ,and alertness resulting in injury or death.

Personal sleep needs vary based on several factors, two of which are basal need and sleep debt. Basal sleep need is the amount of sleep our bodies need on a regular basis for optimal performance, which varies slightly from person to person. Sleep debt is the accumulated sleep that is lost to poor sleep habits and sickness.

The average basal need for healthy adults is believed to be seven to eight hours every night. Should a sleep debt come into play, more sleep is required for a period of time.

Surprisingly, nine hours or more of sleep may also be harmful to your health.

So listen to Mom and get some sleep – but not too much. If you’re one of those who toss and turn the night away, try turning off the electronics earlier. Instead, read a good book, relax by a fire,  or dim the lights and listen to soft music the hour before bedtime.

©Mary K. Doyle