Sleep plays an essential role in your mental, physical and overall wellbeing. If you don’t get enough sleep, you leave yourself susceptible to a plethora of health risks, including heart disease, kidney disease. Mental symptoms such as angry and impulsive behaviour (this could include not thinking about using contraception when you have sex.), depression, lack of motivation and suicidal thoughts.
Getting enough sleep is critical for your physical wellbeing. Sleep is the time when your body repairs, recovers and ultimately rejuvenates the body. For example, sleep is involved in the restoration of the heart and blood vessels. Therefore, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and even stroke.
Other physical conditions associated with sleep deprivation include
- An increased risk of obesity
- Body’s reaction to insulin – this is the hormone that controls your blood sugar level. Sleep deprivation results in a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, which increases the risk of diabetes.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you are sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behaviour, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviour.”
How much sleep should you get?
Recent American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommendations:
|Infants aged 4-12 months||12-16 hours a day (including naps)|
|Children aged 1-2 years||11-14 hours a day (including naps)|
|Children aged 3-5 years||10-13 hours a day (including naps)|
|Children aged 6-12 years||9-12 hours a day|
|Teens aged 13-18 years||8-10 hours a day|
|Adults aged 18 years or older||7–8 hours a day|
Safety and performance
Getting enough sleep also impacts how you function throughout the day. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute confirms, “People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.”
A lack of sleep can also lead to microsleep: short moments of sleep when you’re awake, which is very concerning.
Methods to help you get enough sleep
- Ensure that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Shut off the screens. Use the hour before bed for quiet time
- Avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine before you go to sleep
- Exercise regularly
How Marie Stopes can help you
Marie Stopes South Africa’s purpose is to provide high-quality healthcare services to all women in the country.
We operate 17 centres across seven provinces and are a Section 21 non-profit organisation recognised for the quality of our clinical services and our non-judgemental, client-friendly approach.
Marie Stopes will be able to help you. We are the global leader in women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare.
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