Often when it comes to living a healthy life, we think of eating well, moving more and being tobacco-free.
Those are definite contributors to a healthy life, and ones that we should take seriously. However, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep in America is becoming a public health epidemic. Insufficient sleep is associated with several chronic diseases and conditions – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.
Between work, children, school, and extracurricular activities, it is hard to find time to breathe – let alone sleep. I set my alarm early to get outside, run and get home before the rest of my house wakes up. Along with many of you, mornings are spent getting the kids breakfast and out of the house for school with the daily mantra of, “Hurry! We are late!” Once the kids are at school I head to work. Evenings are spent with the family and when my boys are in bed I begin my homework. I make the mistake of putting off sleep in order to get everything else done.
It seems as though I am not alone because more than one-quarter of the U.S. population report not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10 percent experience chronic insomnia. The amount of sleep one needs depends on his or her age.
Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep each day.
In addition to the warnings of the CDC, the Better Sleep Council claims that insufficient sleep contributes to depression, unattractiveness, skin aging, weight gain, less sex, more disagreements and marital dissatisfaction.
It is during sleep that our brains recharge, our cells repair themselves and our bodies release important hormones. Sleep refreshes us like nothing else and is essential to our survival. Sleep is so vital that we would die from sleep deprivation before food deprivation. It takes two weeks to starve, but it is estimated that only 10 days without sleep can kill you.
Each May is Better Sleep month, and is dedicated to educating Americans about the importance of sleep in regards to health and quality of life.
In order to be a better wife, mother, runner, worker, and student, I need make sleep a priority. Let’s commit this May to organizing our schedules and day as such to get our needed seven hours of sleep each day. Our families will thank us for it.
Choose today to live a full, healthy life. Choose to live well.
Becky Taylor is a prevention specialist with Oklahoma State University Prevention Programs.