In our modern-day world sleep is often a rare commodity. The alert rhythm of society dictates that we fit an abundance of activities and passions in our daily schedules, but unfortunately the days still last only 24 hours. Many of us frequently compromise by cutting down on time spent sleeping.
But the American Thoracic Society (ATS) warns that not getting enough hours of sleep is not only dangerous to the individual’s health, but it also puts the lives of others in danger.
Doctors have long warned that both sleep deprivation and oversleeping have negative effects on the human body, even managing to increase death rates under certain circumstances. Medical researchers advice people to get somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
In an attempt to educate people on the importance and health benefits of sleep, the American Thoracic Society wrote a statement reviewing sleep literature and offering recommendations on how to get a good night’s sleep, but also touching on the consequences of not taking the issue seriously.
The American Thoracic Society specialize in respiratory and sleep medicine, and their statement is based on in the personal experience of experts such as co-author David Gozal of The University of Chicago.
Sutapa Mukherjee, chair of the committee responsible for the statement, gave a statement saying that sleep is a vital element in human health and expressing unhappiness that there isn’t sufficient public guidance that promotes good sleep health.
The chair of the committee went on to inform that “In this statement, with an eye towards improving public health, we address the importance of good quality sleep with a focus on sleep health in adults and children; the effects of work schedules on sleep; the impact of drowsy driving; and the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia”.
It’s important to recognize that sleep cycles and the amount of sleep needed per night change with age, and often vary from individual to individual.
The experts share that adults should get no less than 6 and no more than 9 hours per nigh if they’d like to avoid negative health outcomes such as gaining weight, having high blood pressure, developing type-2 diabetes or heart disease. Sleep deprivation also causes people to feel tired, which can affect their performance at work, or even worse, cause them to drift off while at the wheel.
Teens operate on a delayed “body clock” and require significantly more sleep than adults. The experts suggest that school schedules should be changed so that they accommodate the growing needs of teens. They explain that this is also the reason why they often function slowly in the morning, but become alert once night falls.
Gozal informed that high school years with later start times have prove to reduce aggressive behaviors, bullying, absenteeism, and even improve academic performance.
Young children also differ in their needs. Experts say that they should be allowed to wake up at their desired time, not forced to sleep when they’re not tired or woken up when they haven’t gotten enough sleep.
The report also stresses that physicians need to do a better job of preventing sleeping disorders from being undiagnosed as they cause major life disruptions. They also advice physicians to use cognitive behavioral therapies in their treatment.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk