We're winding up National Sleep Awareness Week tonight. How appropriate that a week focused on sleep would end on the one night of the year when we all have to sacrafice an hour of sleep. Daylight Savings time starts tonight. Even though the change is just one hour it can still take a few days to adjust. The National Sleep Foundation recommends opening the shades and spending a little time in the sun if possible. Light helps to regulate your biological clock.
An integral part of the National Sleep Awareness Week was the Sleep in America Poll which this year focused on "Sleepy Connected Americans". An alarming number of Americans (43%) between the ages of 13-64 say they rarely or never get a good night sleep on weekdays. Sleepiness is more severe for 13-29 year olds than 30-64 year olds. In particular, teens need more sleep. Sleep should be a priority for development and well being for teens. It's natural for teens to want to go to bed later and sleep later than other age groups. It's a fact that teens optimum alertness is 10pm which is at odds with most school schedules of early morning start times. Most teens wake between 5:30am and 6:30am and rarely go to sleep before 11:00pm so clearly this is not enough sleep. For teens to optimally accommodate the early morning school schedule, they would need to hit the sack at 8:30 which is highly unlikely. School boards should take note that high school kids perform best with 9 hours of sleep and for overall well being would be best advised to start the school day at 8:30 instead of 7:30. Insufficient sleep affects motivation, concentration and performance.
Another factor in disrupted sleep is being "connected" with electronic devices right before bed. This can be blamed for sleep problems. Using an ipad, iphone, laptop or similar device can cause sleep problems due to the stimulating effect of the artificial light. It's hard to disconnect before bed but creating an atmosphere conducive to sleep is so ideal for a great night sleep. Your skin, your body and your mind will thank you in the morning.
Let's put "a good night sleep" on our "to do list" this week.