“Catching some Z’s.” “Crashing.” “Hitting the sack.” “Getting some shut eye.” “Zonking out.” “Getting forty winks.” We have a lot of idioms for sleep.
On average, we spend one-third of our lives sleeping. That’s a full-time job. Eight hours a day. Fifty-six hours a week. Nearly 3,000 hours a year. Sadly, most of us take sleep for granted.
Too much stuff in life happens that can cause major problems with our sleep, stress being the main culprit. And then are sleep disorders, three of which have funny names but are serious in their own way—narcolepsy, insomnia, or sleep apnea.
Sleep is important. Period.
Most people believe that we need our sleep to give our bodies a break—when, in fact, it is our minds that need the break. That thing never stops.
While the body is sleeping, the mind is processing and storing information so that we don’t forget key details or make mistakes as a result. This is why cramming right before a test does not work. We haven’t given our brains the time it needs to process that information.
At different points in our lives, we require different amounts of sleep. Babies require the most, despite the unreasonable hours they tend to wake their poor parents. Most experts agree that babies need between twelve and fourteen hours of sleep per day. Children need between ten and twelve. Teens need eight to ten hours each day. Adults need a bit less according to most experts.
Apparently, we can get by with as little as six hours of sleep per day.
Now, if you are constantly sleepy, despite getting the suggested amount of sleep for your age, you may have a sleep disorder—like narcolepsy.
When you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have insomnia. The infomercial industry banks on some degree of Americans having insomnia every night.
For those of you who have difficulty breathing to the point that you stop breathing several times a night, you might have sleep apnea.
Fortunately, there are treatments for all three of these conditions. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your doctor probably won’t be able to make a diagnosis without your help. The vast majority of people suffer from sleep disorder symptoms for months or years before being properly diagnosed. Keeping a journal or recording your sleep habits isn’t a bad idea.
Read more about sleep disorders by clicking here.