April 22, 2013
Woman sleeping

To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

How can we get it all done? Where can we find time to work, spend time with family and friends, go to school and have fun? As we choose how to spend our 24 hours, some tough decisions have to be made. Often many other things take priority over our sleep and we do not get the recommended 7-8 hours/night.

Only 16 waking hours?

We all have the same number of hours in the day. So how much of that should we use to sleep? According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep needs are individual. Just as a person has other unique traits, the amount of sleep needed can vary. Recommendations are between 7 and 9 hours per night. You may respond by saying, this is not possible! I have responsibilities and besides it’s only for a short time. After the semester is over, then I can catch up. Investigation into this concept has shown that sleep cannot be efficiently “banked”. Once sleep is lost then it cannot be made up.

What happens if I don’t get enough sleep?

Experts have discovered if a person does not get enough sleep that over time there is a decreased ability to retain new information; increase in body mass index (obesity); increased risk of diabetes and heart problems; increased risk of motor vehicle accidents; increased risk for psychiatric illness such as depression and substance abuse. Can I take the risk once in a while? How will it affect me?

Can I get too much sleep?

Actually yes! Get more than 9 hours of sleep on a regular basis and it can lead to an increase in illness, accidents and death.

How much do I really need?

To find out how much sleep you need, take a look at this chart from the National Sleep Foundation.

sleep needs

How can I get into good sleep habits?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Keep a consistent pattern of sleep-wake cycles.
  2. Relax before bedtime. Warm bath and relaxing music are examples of activities to do prior to bedtime.
  3. Minimize caffeine and alcohol during the day.
  4. Keep stressful items and work-related things out of your bedroom. Examples are: computers and other electronics.

Are you convinced that your sleep should be a priority? What’s keeping you from getting good sleep?

 

About the author:

Lynn Dananay is a full time nursing instructor at Front Range Community College, Boulder County Campus. She has enjoyed working in many different aspects of nursing, always searching for ways to improve patient care and student education.

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