We know that physical activity and a good diet go hand in hand when it comes to our health. We also understand the importance of personal hygiene practices, like brushing our teeth and bathing. But do we place a similar emphasis on our sleeping patterns?
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining a person’s health and well-being over the course of their life. During sleep, your body is working to restore itself and support healthy brain function and physical health for the next day.1,2 Therefore, getting good quality sleep can help protect and improve your mental health, physical health, and overall quality of life.1
According to the National Institute of Health, 50–70 million adults in the United States suffer from a sleep disorder or report having insufficient sleep.3 Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to cognitive impairments such as difficulty making decisions, solving problems, learning and retaining information, controlling emotions and behaviour, or coping with change.1,4 Ongoing sleep deficiency is also linked to an increased risk of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.4
Exercise plays a role in how well your body is able to rest-up: research has shown that increased sedentary time is associated with poorer sleep quality than those who reported exercising. Those who exercised more regularly were less likely to report sleep disturbances and daytime tiredness.3
The National Sleep Foundation issued recommendations for appropriate sleep durations. The recommended sleep guidelines show that at different stages of our lives we require different amounts of sleep. Typically, infants and newborns need nearly twice as much sleep as a fully-grown adult, and that duration reduces in slight increments as children grow into adults2:
- Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours each day
- Infants (4–11 months): 12–15 hours
- Toddlers (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
- Preschoolers (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
- School-age children (6–13 years): 9–11 hours
- Teenagers (14–17 years): 8–10 hours
- Younger adults (18–25 years): 7–9 hours
- Adults (26–64 years): 7–9 hours
- Older adults (65+ years): 7–8 hours
It’s never too late to develop good sleep habits. Here are a few things you can do to boost your sleep quality and get you into a routine for a good night’s sleep:
- Stick to a regular sleep–wake schedule, even on weekends
- Avoid screen time (TV, phone, tablet, computer) within two hours of bedtime
- Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet
- Limit daytime naps
- Include physical activity in your daily routine
These are just a few of the steps you can take to ensure your body and your environment is primed for sleep. For more tips on how to improve your sleep quality and habits, ask your chiropractor.
- National Institute of Health: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Why Is Sleep Important? Updated February 22, 2012. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why. Accessed February 22, 2017.
- National Sleep Foundation. Sleep Research & Education. Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/. Accessed November 8, 2016.
- St-Onge MP, Grandner MA, Brown D et al. Sleep duration and quality: Impact on lifestyle behaviors and cardiometabolic health: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016; 134(18): e367-86. doi: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000444.
Harvard Medical Review: Healthy Sleep. Consequences of Insufficient Sleep. Available at: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences. Accessed November 8, 2016.