“Goodnight”, “sleep well”, “sweet dreams”. These are just some of the phrases that we may whisper to our kids, to our partners and other loved ones, before going to bed at night. But how many of us actually get a night of good quality sleep, have sweet dreams, and wake up rested, ready for what the new day brings?
According to statistics, not many. Yet, sleep deprivation has significant personal and global health impacts, as well as economic. In light of World Sleep Day (March 15th), I believe it’s a topic that deserves significantly more attention.
In the words of the now-renowned sleep advocate, Arianna Huffington, we’re in the midst of a “sleep deprivation crisis.” In the world of work hard and even harder, never-ending Netflix shows, excessive screen time, aspiring to have it all, we compromise on our sleep and even let sleep disorders go untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. And it is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide suffer from sleep apnea, 80 percent of whom remain undiagnosed and, globally, 30 percent of people experience difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep.” Poor sleep leads to more than weary eyes, though; it is also strongly linked to depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, neurocognitive disease and even cancer. Good, restorative sleep is vital to treating and managing other health conditions as well.
The big question is: when will we realize that we need to do something about our unhealthy sleep habits and routines?
Many people think six hours of sleep is sufficient, but it’s not. Scientific research shows that there are clear risks of not having enough sleep.
We typically start noticing daytime symptoms such as having low energy or difficulty concentrating, and finding ourselves asleep on the couch instead of in the comfort of our beds. These are probably the most prevalent indicators of not having enough good quality, restorative sleep during the night. The factors that lead up to these results are complex and we do not often notice or recognize them, meaning we don’t even realize we are sleep deprived.