It’s an exceedingly common problem: the consistent inability to get a full night’s sleep. Of course, everyone has plenty of reasons for not getting enough sleep night after night – a demanding career, the desire to enjoy your personal life after work, children, and a never-ending to-do list are some of the top reasons why we skimp on sleep.

Unfortunately, these missed hours of sleep add up quickly – and the effects of poor sleep habits can follow a person throughout the entire next day.

How much sleep do I really need?

7-8 hours is the recommended amount by most doctors for adults. Teenagers should get at least nine hours of sleep each night and preschoolers between 11-12 hours. Newborns, of course, will sleep up to 18 hours each day.

Many of us skimp on sleep not because we are too busy to turn in at the same time each night, but simply because sleep isn’t the priority that it should be. The urge to stay up an extra hour and unwind is so strong that instead of going to bed, we turn on the TV or catch up on social media without realizing that we’re putting much more than our energy level at risk. Sleep is incredibly important, and the benefits of a restful night extend to all areas of a person’s health.

The amount of sleep you get can affect your…

  • Immune system – More sleep means that you’ll be less likely to catch a cold, or worse.
  • Weight – Studies show that people who are well rested are able to maintain a healthy weight more easily.
  • Mood and energy – If you’re exhausted after catching only a few hours of sleep, you’re less likely to be able to maintain a good mood and keep up with your daily routine.
  • Blood pressure – Being well rested puts you at lower risk for high blood pressure.
  • Ability to make decisions – A lack of sleep can seriously affect a person’s decision-making abilities. For example, have you ever driven your car while very tired and felt yourself start to nod off? This is a prime example of how an extra hour of sleep can deeply impact your life.

Tips to (finally) get enough sleep:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday – or at least try to. Setting a strict sleep routine can be tough with a busy schedule, but your body will thank you if you make an effort.
  • Resist the weekend sleep binge – It’s tempting to try and make up on the weekend for all the hours of lost sleep during the work, but we recommend that you try to resist this and keep to a schedule.
  • Watch out for multi-hour naps – Just like sleeping in on the weekend, a 2-3 hour long nap can sound like a great idea after a hectic week, but long naps can hinder your ability to fall asleep at night.
  • Step away from screens –Electronics provide a great deal of stimulation and can provide a false sense of feeling awake and energized even at 1:00 a.m.