Most Americans do not get enough sleep. The national average is less then 7 hours a night during the week and just a half hour more then that on the weekends. 20 percent of Americans get less then 6 hours of sleep every night. Before the light bulb was invented and we had lights to allow us to stay up into the wee hours of the night most people got around 10 hours of sleep every night. That means Americans on average are getting 20 hours of sleep a night then people used to a year ago.
According to scientific research our sleep needs change with age. Infants need 11 to 18 hours a night, toddlers need 12 to 15, kids between ages 3 and 5 need 11 to 13 hours, kids between 5 and 12 need 9 to 11 hours, teens need 8 to 10 hours and adults need 7 to 9 hours. Pregnant women during the first trimester usually need much more sleep then that.
Many people who aren’t getting enough sleep think that they’re fine and they don’t need more sleep. They say they are fully functioning and able to complete their tasks so there’s no reason for them to sleep more. What they don’t realize and don’t know is that their reflexes and coordination are suffering without them knowing it.
Not getting enough sleep causes a person to be drowsy and unfocused. Although if they’re work is relaxed and unrushed they may perform fine but if under stress they are likely to make a lot of mistakes. The person will forget things, become confused and take risks he/she normally wouldn’t. When a fatigued person is not processing information the brain takes tiny naps called microsleeps that last 1 to 10 seconds. Learning is poorer when you don’t get enough sleep. While you sleep short term memory is transferred into long term memory. If you don’t sleep enough then some information will be lost and you won’t remember it.
Without enough sleep its likely to get depressed, upset and cranky. If you are already depressed and don’t get enough sleep then it will be harder to recover from the depression. Lack of sleep causes lack of coordination. If you have severe lack of sleep your coordination may decrease to that of a drunk person or worse. 100,000 car crashes and 1,550 deaths are caused by people falling asleep at the wheel. A person who averages 6 to 7 hours of sleep at night are at twice the risk for getting in a car crash then someone who gets 8 hours of sleep a night. For those who get 5 or less hours of sleep a night that risk increases to 4 or 5 times more then that of those who get 8 hours of sleep a night.
When you aren’t getting enough sleep the body produces more of the hormone gherin that makes you feel hungry and less of the hormone leptin that suppresses appetite. You also tend to crave high calorie carbohydrates when you are low on sleep. Due to this you are likely to gain weight. Research also shows that not getting enough sleep increases the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes.
Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attacks. The immune system also does not work as well when you don’t get enough sleep so you are more likely to come down with colds, flues and other sicknesses.
The bottom line is that sleep is very important. Almost every person in America needs more then they are getting. This includes children. If you aren’t getting enough sleep and if your children are getting enough sleep start trying to change that. It won’t happen in one night but work at it. It’s worth it for you and your children’s health and safety.