Getting too little, or too much, sleep is associated with chronic illness and disease, according to the HealthDay News on Friday.
Dr. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says:
Sleeping longer doesn't necessarily mean you're sleeping well.
Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, Badr said in an academy news release.
Researchers looked at more than 54,000 Americans aged 45 and older in 14 states. About one-third of them were short sleepers (less than six hours per night), 4 percent were long sleepers (10 or more hours) and 64 percent were optimal sleepers (seven to nine hours).
Compared to optimal sleepers, short sleepers were more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and frequent mental distress. The same was true for long sleepers, and the associations with heart disease, stroke and diabetes were even stronger with more sleep.
Sleep illnesses -- including sleep apnea and insomnia -- occur frequently in people with a chronic disease and can hinder your ability to sleep soundly, Badr noted. "So if you're waking up exhausted, speak with a sleep physician to see if there's a problem. If you are diagnosed with a sleep illness, treating it could significantly improve disease symptoms and your quality of life," Badr explained.
Chronic disease expert Dr. Janet Croft at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: ‘Some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep duration and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and obesity.
’This suggests that physicians should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition to sleep health for patients with chronic diseases.’
How to sleep better
Stick to a sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night.
Don't go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Your discomfort might keep you up. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too.
Do the same things each night to tell your body it's time to wind down. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.
Create a room that's ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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