The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults ages 18-60 years of age sleep for 7 or more hours each night. The recommendation for adults 61-64 years is 7-9 hours and for adults 65 years and older 7-8 hours is recommended. If you are sleeping for less than these recommended amounts, you are experiencing sleep insufficiency. While the amount of sleep you get each day is important, good sleep quality is also essential. If you are not feeling rested even after getting a good amount of sleep, are repeatedly waking up at night or are experiencing signs of a sleep disorder, you likely have poor sleep quality. Even if you are getting the recommended number of hours of sleep each night you may still be experiencing sleep insufficiency if you have poor sleep quality.
Some common sleep disorders are sleep apnea (snoring or gasping for air), restless leg syndrome (aches and pains in legs that is relieved by movement of the legs which can cause issues with getting to sleep), and insomnia (difficulty with getting to sleep and/or staying asleep). If you suspect a sleep disorder is interfering with your sleep then it would be a good idea to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
There is growing interest in the role of sleep health in the development and management of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression. Some research has shown that sleeping for less time can lead to metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity. Other research has revealed an association between short sleep duration and excess body weight in all age groups. This association is more pronounced in children. When children and adolescents do not get enough sleep, their brain development can be affected. The function of the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite and energy expenditure, may be negatively affected.
Insufficient sleep has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A shorter sleep duration and/or poorer sleep quality are predictors of higher hemoglobin A1c levels (which indicates higher blood glucose levels). People with sleep apnea have an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
The relationship between depression and sleep is complex. Sleep disturbances are common symptoms of depression. However, recent research has shown that symptoms of depression may decrease once sleep apnea has been effectively treated. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, treating the apnea to ensure you get a higher quality and duration of sleep would be very important.
It is thought that chronic sleep insufficiency can lead to weight gain by increasing the amount of food people eat and/or by decreasing the amount of energy they burn.
Sleep insufficiency may increase food intake by:
Sleep insufficiency could decrease energy expenditure by:
Establishing better sleep habits can help you get more sleep and improve your sleep quality. Some good habits which can help improve your sleep health:
Prioritizing sleep is essential for better overall health. In addition, developing good sleep habits have other benefits too such as:
So be sure to make sleep a priority in your life! If you are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, take some time to think about what changes you can make to increase the amount of sleep you get and improve your sleep quality.
Information compiled from: