Sufficient sleep isn't a luxury, but a necessity.
(NewsUSA) - Between office meeting and errands, sports practice and studies, many people sacrifice sleep for a few more hours of productivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, fewer than half of Americans report getting adequate sleep every night.
But sleep deprivation results in more than just yawns. Inadequate sleep has been linked to depression, weight gain, hypertension, poor concentration and memory retention, and accidents.
Take driving, an activity that most Americans perform daily. In a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 54 percent of respondents said that they have driven while drowsy. Twenty-eight percent confessed to falling asleep at the wheel. People know that alcohol impairs driving, but too few consider sleep deprivation's effect on their motor skills. Drowsy driving causes thousands of accidents each year.
Setting aside seven to eight hours for sleeping isn't a luxury -; it's a necessity. The American Sleep Apnea Association offers 10 tips for better sleep hygiene:
1. Set a sleep schedule, and stick to it.
2. Don't nap for more than 45 minutes a day.
3. Avoid excessive alcohol intake within four hours of bedtime. Do not smoke.
4. Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.
5. Avoid spicy food six hours before bedtime.
6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
7. Use comfortable bedding.
8. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature.
9. Block out noise, and eliminate as much light as possible.
10. Do not use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room.
If you feel tired even after sleeping eight hours, an undiagnosed sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, may be to blame. In sleep apnea, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airway. Sufferers wake up for a few seconds every time they stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Visit www.sleepapnea.org to find out your "Snore Score," or the likelihood that you have sleep apnea. The disorder can be treated, so it's important to speak to a doctor if you experience excessive daytime fatigue.