There are a lot of advertisements out there regarding maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The most prominent or commonly seen ones refer to proper diet elements, proper exercise, and sometimes you will see a few about optimal water intake. There is one element to a healthy lifestyle that is often overlooked and almost non existent in the healthy lifestyle market. That element is sleep. I do not know about you, but the only commercials I see regarding sleep are featuring problems with having trouble sleeping, and then some special pill or other form of medication is shown fixing the situation. This means that these companies are making profits off of something that should not be happening in the first place. I know quite a few people who do not care about their sleeping patterns or how much they get, but then they will wonder why they feel so groggy or irritable the next morning or even for the entire day. Well, this next story will shed some knowledge on sleeping habits.
The first question running through your mind is “what is the optimal amount of sleep?” Well, it depends on where you are in life. Most people would likely think I am crazy when I say this and think “Well, the more sleep the better right? Sleep is good for you!” Slow down and try again. Ever heard the saying, “Too much of anything is never good?” Well sleep is not exempt from this particular saying. For adults, the recommended sleep quantity is between six and eight hours, and less or more and that adult subjects themselves to potential negative repercussions of sleeping too long. For teenagers, since they run on a delayed “body clock” according to experts, they require more sleep than adults, which is part of the reason why some who are aware of this want to push for later start times for high schools. Studies comparing academic performance of teenagers in schools who start later than the conventional 8am or 9:30am with the ones who do have shown remarkably better results for the ones who end up starting later. Children also have unique optimal sleep requirements. However, the American Thoracic Society has had difficulty in saying how much. Now that that is out of the way, some of you may fall under these optimal quantities and stop reading right there. If I still have your attention, there is one more thing you need to think about when it comes to your sleep, and that is the quality of the sleep you get. An easy way to tell how well your sleep was is to think about how you feel when you wake up in the morning. If you wake up feeling rested, on your own, and feeling full of energy, you likely had a good quality sleep. However, if you are feeling groggy when you wake up, irritable, and all you can think about is going back to bed, you may want to sleep some more if you have the option. Another easy but sometimes inaccurate way to tell if your sleep is not the best is if you use an alarm clock. Some people may get lucky and wake up right when their alarm clock goes off, which is why I say that simply saying your sleep is not quality if you use an alarm clock is inaccurate, but for most people using one, they are often waiting for the atrocious noise to wake them up.
Being a young adult myself, I can honestly admit that as I write this, I am not one who thinks about the quality or quantity of sleep at all. I’ve had those occasional Sunday nights where I go out and have drinks with friends and stay out till four in the morning, knowing good and well that I have a class to get to for eight thirty in the morning, and I need to get up even earlier than that so I can catch the bus in time. With that said, I have tried to stop those kinds of nights, because I have experienced what kind of tole doing things like that takes on your body, knowing that you have a full day ahead you. The whole world is at fault for not knowing how much sleep they should be getting. Even most physicians are not familiar the optimal sleep patterns, and yes they should be able to give you a general direction to go when it comes to this particular subject, but I believe it is an individual’s responsibility to inform themselves on the optimal sleep quantity, just like them knowing what foods are healthy, how often to exercise, and the other generally talked about health topics.