We know spring is definitely here when we âspring forwardâ and move the clocks an hour ahead. But the benefits of longer days and more daylight hours comes with some drawbacks too: losing sleep. You may just think âitâs only an hourâ and that it doesnât have any real effect on your sleeping schedule or your productivity, but studies show that losing that one hour of sleep can have huge consequences. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), getting a proper amount of sleep is vital to your health. Despite that, about 60% of American adults have trouble falling asleep, or donât get enough sleep a few nights a week, according to the NSFâs sleep survey.
Think itâs not a problem? Hereâs the bad news: not getting enough sleep can significantly affect your daytime productivityâand this means your daytime sleepiness will impede your workload, and prevent you from concentrating on your normal daily activitiesâthatâs the case for 40% of American adults. In fact, itâs such a serious issue that March 15, 2013 has been dedicated âWorld Sleep Day,â an annual event devoted to raising awareness about the importance of a full nightâs rest. This yearâs theme is âGood Sleep, Healthy Aging,â which focuses on the sleep problems that many seniors face.
Doctors recommend that adults get a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep a night. And those hours become even more important as you age: seniors need the same amount, but, the problem is that, as you age, it gets harder and harder to sleep for six to eight hours at once (that might explain why you wake up at the crack of dawn, but find yourself dozing off in the afternoon).
So why is sleep so important, after all? Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a host of health problems, including:
â¢ Accidents, including everyday injuries and falls
â¢ Higher risk of cardiovascular diseases
â¢ Mental health issues like anxiety and depression
â¢ Weakened immune system
â¢ Negative impact on memory recall and attention span
Hereâs just one example: a study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that there were more fatal car accidents on the day following Daylight Savings Time when we spring forward and lose an hour of sleep, and fewer accidents on the day following Daylight Savings Time in the fall, when we gain an hour of sleep.
According to the World Association of Sleep Medicine, getting older doesnât have to mean sacrificing sleep. Instead, you just need to adjust your bodyâs sleep patterns: since you will mostly likely be waking up earlier, compensate that time by going to sleep earlier, too. Breathing problems and other medical illnesses can interfere with a good nightâs sleep. Start treating those problems and youâll be able to sleep better. Figure out what works best for youâyou can adjust your room temperature and lighting, two other contributors to sleep difficulties. Finally, try some herbal remedies like lemon balm and lavender if youâre having trouble sleeping. Theyâve been known to improve sleep.
Source(s) for Todayâs Article:
âWhy Sleep is Important and What Happens When You Donât Get Enough,â American Psychological Association February 2005; http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx?item=1, last accessed March 11, 2013.
âWorld Sleep Day,â World Association of Sleep Medicine. March 5, 2013; http://www.worldsleepday.org/march-press-release, last accessed March 11, 2013.