Sleep can often be neglected or overlooked as something that we can wait just a little bit longer to get. Whether it is because we want to stay up to watch another episode of the show we started binge-watching or to scroll on our phones aimlessly, we tend to ignore the fact that we will be falling short on the amount of sleep we will be able to get. What we need to begin doing is embracing the fact that sleep ultimately controls our overall quality of life. The number of hours of rest we get each night has the power to control anything from our cognitive ability, our safety, to the strength of our immune systems. There are many factors that contribute to America’s sleep deprivation problem such as obstructive sleep apnea, work schedules, or poor sleep habits. It is estimated that one in three American’s do not receive a sufficient amount of sleep.
A lack of sleep can result in a lowered ability to concentrate or be productive. It also can hinder creative ability, problem-solving skills, as well as decrease the potential for short-term memories to become long-term. Along with this, a lack of sleep increases the risk of being put in dangerous situations. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll which concluded that sixty-percent of American’s have driven while feeling tired and thirty-seven-percent admitted to have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Getting a good amount of sleep won’t prevent someone from getting sick, but a lack of sleep can negatively affect the immune system leaving someone with a heightened chance of getting a cold or the flu. While we sleep, our bodies create cytokines, a protein that targets infection and inflammation. When fewer cytokines are being produced, we become susceptible to becoming sick.
It is obvious that sleep can greatly affect our quality of life, so it is important to know how much you are supposed to be getting. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), teens (13-18) should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep, adults 18-60 should sleep 7 hours or more, adults 61-64 should be getting 7-9 hours, and adults 65 and older should sleep 7-8 hours a night.
Try making sleep a priority and see how it could positively affect your daily life by making you more alert, socially engaged, and potentially improve your mood.