The week of March 8-14 marks National Sleep Awareness week. An initiative by the National Sleep Foundation, it is a time to celebrate healthy sleep habits and advocating for getting enough rest. In today’s world, we often find ourselves looking to secure our financial future, looking after our families, keeping up friends, trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle along with a long laundry list of things to get done around the house. This can be both mentally and physically overwhelming. The importance of this celebration is to help us understand that a good quality sleep is a service to our body and mind. It also promotes continuous productivity and good health while ensuring our well-being.

The National Sleep Foundation is a non-profit organization formed in 1990. Their mission is to improve public health and safety through the understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. They do this through public education, sleep related research and advocacy. The foundation has established themselves as a well-respected source of information on sleep, various sleep disorders and the consequences of sleep deprivation (not getting enough rest).

So how much sleep is enough? Well, the amount of sleep varies slightly for different individuals. Depending on what age group you are in, there are different amounts of sleep recommended sleep time:

  • Newborn to 3 months should get 14-17 hours
  • 4 to 11 months: 12-15 hours
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • 14-17years: 8-10 hours
  • Adults: 7-9 hours

The average American doesn’t come close to the recommended sleeping time. Surveys have shown that most adults on average get around 5-6 hours a night. This has been normalized in today’s society, but it is a form of sleep deprivation which comes with its effects. We need aim for adequate and quality sleep because it has great benefits such as:

  • Curbing inflammation which is related to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging
  • Improving of memory
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and decrease risk for being obese or overweight
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Relieves stress

When we don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to developing a sleep illness. Some common sleep disorders can include:

  • Sleep apnea- interrupted breathing during sleep
  • Insomnia- inability to sleep
  • Shift work disorder- atypical sleep habits due to nontraditional work hours
  • Restless leg syndrome- uncontrollable leg movements during nighttime hours
  • Sleep walking- the act of getting up and walking around while asleep

There are several tips or tools that can used to improve, manage and even prevent sleep disorders:

  1. Avoid large meals 2-3 hours before bedtime
  2. Develop a regular nighttime routine/schedule
  3. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
  4. Improve your sleep environment; maintain comfortable mattress and pillows, keep the bedroom quiet

Join me in making sleep and getting enough rest a priority!

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