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Sleep numbers: Facts and figures for a better shut-eye

The quality of your sleep can make or break your entire day. Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling sluggish, forgetful and in a haze. Lack of sleep also increases your risk of making mistakes and impairs your judgment, which can be a hazard on the road and at work. Sleep deprivation can also lead to severe health issues. Chronic sleep loss increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and so much more.

To help prevent these problems and improve your overall general quality of life, try to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. There are a few people who can get by with less and those who need more, but the vast majority needs this much to function properly. Unfortunately, a third of adults do not get a healthy amount of sleep each night.

Exercise as a Solution

Exercise has been proven to help you get better shut-eye. People who work out regularly report better sleep than those who don’t exercise. Just 10 minutes of a low-intensity workout can improve your sleep quality and help you fall asleep.

It should take you about 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet activity like reading or knitting until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. Avoid looking at screens — the blue light from cell phones, televisions or computers can actually inhibit your ability to fall asleep.

Checking for Sleep Apnea

If you’re having trouble staying asleep, it may be sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when the throat muscles relax too much during sleep and restrict the airway, causing you to stop breathing — for 10 seconds or more at a time. This can happen many times per hour through the night, therefore, you should talk to your doctor, as this can be a serious issue as it may mean that the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen.

In a National Sleep Foundation poll, parents reported that their children ages 6 to 10 slept an average of 8.9 hours per night, even though experts recommend 9 to 11 hours for this age group. Check your child’s sleep recommendations for their age group, or ask your pediatrician for their recommendation.

The best way to tell if you or your child is getting enough sleep is to try and wake up without an alarm. If you have to wake up with an alarm, you probably need more sleep. Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep health.

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If you’re tired of being tired, find a physician on the Baylor Scott & White medical staff specializing in sleep disorders

About the author

David Luterman, MD
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Dr. David Luterman is the head of the department of sleep medicine and medical director of the Sleep Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. He is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary disease and internal medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the sleep Research Society, and the American Thoracic Society. He has been listed as a “Best Doctor in Dallas” by D Magazine numerous times.

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Sleep numbers: Facts and figures for a better shut-eye