How does sleep affect my health?

How does sleep affect my health?

By Emily Miller

For those looking to improve their physical shape and overall lifestyle, the most common advice is to eat less and exercise. Unfortunately, adequate sleep may be frequently devalued by otherwise healthy people.

“Don’t forget that resting and getting enough sleep are as important as eating the right foods and working out,” said St. Louis Globe-Democrat journalist Lisa Hautly.

She cites information from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) as saying that while different people require different amounts of sleep, everyone needs to have a certain amount of what is referred to as “quality sleep.”

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyles and health. So, in order to determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum”, but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep, according to the NSF.

How much sleep do you really need?

• Newborns (0 to 2 months) = 12 to 18 hours

• Infants (3 to 11 months) = 14 to 15 hours

• Toddlers (1 to 3 years) = 12 to 14 hours

• Preschoolers (3 to 5 years) = 11 to 13 hours

• School-age children (5 to 10) = 10 to 11 hours

• Teens (10 to 17) = 8.5 to 9.25 hours

• Adults = 7 to 9 hours

The NSF asserts that a significant fraction of the American public doesn’t get sufficient sleep every night. In a poll performed last year, respondents told the Foundation that they were losing sleep over the country’s economic woes, stress from work and/or issues at home.

Last of sleep could result in the following:

• Poor or impaired motor skills that may lead to driving accidents

• Increased chance of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation

• Increased risk of diabetes and heart disease

• Increased risk of depression and substance abuse

• Lack of attention span

Regardless of the reason, however, getting enough sleep appears to be critical to staying healthy. Experts say that those with healthier lifestyles are more likely to enjoy lower premiums on their life insurance policies.

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