Newswise – March 15 marks World Sleep Day, an annual call by the World Sleep Society to raise awareness about the need for enough sleep to stay healthy. This year’s theme is “Sleep Equity for Global Health.”

Maya RamagopalProfessor of Pediatrics at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and international ambassador for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, discusses the importance of sleep in a healthy lifestyle—and where Americans are falling short.

Discuss the importance of this year’s theme, “Sleep Equity to Global Health.”

Sleep is essential for overall well-being. Sleep equity means that everyone must have access to enough sleep, regardless of location, socioeconomic status and environmental factors. The consequences of sleep disparities are significant, particularly in marginalized societies where the burden of disease is already high.

Are Americans getting enough sleep? Ramagopal: The amount of sleep needed varies depending on a person’s age. Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours a day, including naps. School-age children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep, teenagers need eight to 10 hours, and adults need at least seven hours.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it affects six out of 10 middle school students and seven out of 10 high school students not always getting enough sleep. The CDC also reports that 35 percent of adults in the US not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

How does sleep affect your health? Ramagopal: Sleep is crucial for overall health. Lack of sleep has been shown to be linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor mental health, driving accidents, attention or behavioral problems, and poor academic performance.

What is good sleep hygiene?

Ramagopal: I believe that the biggest reason people of all ages don’t get enough sleep is because they use electronic devices right before bed. Technology stimulates your brain, making it harder to fall asleep. Even with blue light filters, the content can be a factor preventing you from falling asleep.

To improve sleep, a consistent sleep rhythm should be maintained, even on weekends – even if it is tempting to sleep in. Ensure that the room temperature is comfortable and the room is as dark as possible. Avoid eating a large meal at least three hours before bedtime and avoid consuming caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. While moderate to vigorous exercise can improve sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, you should avoid vigorous exercise in the hour before bed.

It is important for adults to model good sleep habits for children in their home.

Does climate change affect our sleep?

Ramagopal: New research seems to suggest so. A study published in the magazine last year One Earth showed that elevated temperature shortens sleep primarily through delayed onset and increases the likelihood of inadequate sleep. The researchers estimated that warmer temperatures by the end of the century could cause people to sleep about 8 to 10 minutes less per night.

What do you recommend to people who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? When should you see a doctor?

These symptoms are called insomnia. This is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep even though there is enough opportunity to sleep. In addition, there is impairment during the day. If symptoms occur more than three nights a week and last longer than three months, it is called chronic insomnia. The cause of acute insomnia can be anxiety and stress, an acute illness or pain. Chronic insomnia is caused by medical problems like sleep apnea or psychological problems like anxiety and depression. Poor sleep hygiene such as using electronic devices before bed, caffeine and alcohol consumption, and strenuous exercise close to bedtime are some of the causes of insomnia.

Good sleep hygiene measures should be followed such as: E.g., regular bedtime and wake-up times, avoiding caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m., and avoiding exposure to blue light from electronic devices before bed.

Calm music, yoga, and white noise can be used as relaxation techniques to make it easier to fall asleep.

If you have underlying medical or mental illnesses or if symptoms do not improve with lifestyle changes, please contact a doctor.

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