Perhaps one of your New Year’s intentions is to get more sleep or perhaps make sure your children do. Maybe sleep is short circuited in your home, in favor of activities, television, video games, computer time, and social media. You are not alone! Americans have walked away from sleep and their beds.
A recent report on the NPR show “Here and Now” states that half of Americans do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep and that 70 percent of teenagers do not get the 9.25 hours they need. A new documentary entitled “Sleepless in America,” a collaboration between “National Geographic,” the National Institute of Health, and the Public Good Projects. Produced by John Hoffman, argues that sleeplessness has a huge toll and is slowly killing us. The documentary links sleeplessness to increased cases of diabetes, mental illness, cancer, and Alzheimers. This is not to leave out its connection to car crashes, medical accidents, and lack of productivity when we work. As I listened to this report, one case in particular stood out to me. It involved the accident in which a man lost his wife and two children to a vehicle of a dozing driver. The driver was a medical worker who worked an impossible combination of overnight shifts; fell asleep at the vehicle; and took out a family! The time is now to improve on our sleep!
Within the documentary there are numerous tips given for getting more sleep. These tips are largely aimed at adults. They include staying in bed as little as possible and getting up the same time every day, no matter how little sleep you’ve gotten or how physically active your were the night before. This helps us meet our body’s need for sleep or its sleep pressure. If you can’t sleep, you should get out of bed and go to a dimly lit room and do something boring. Bring out the impossible crossword puzzle, terribly written book, or anything that might put you to sleep. When the yawning starts, go back to bed!
Along with this, Hoffman warns that do not maintain the false assumption that you can make up lost sleep on the weekend. The damage is already done! Strive for good sleep and the same waking time all week long! He also strongly argues for turning off all devices an hour before bed and avoiding the blue light emitting devices that interfere with sleep. He also advises to consult a doctor over sleep concerns. It could be life or death, accident or no accident, illness or illness prevention…..