From Dr. Mercola:
Sleep is supposed to be a time for your body to recharge, a respite from the demands of the workaday world. Yet, according to the documentary Sleepless in America, 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, with many getting less than five hours of sleep per night.
For many, sleep isn’t a respite at all but rather has turned into a source of great frustration and stress. If you’ve ever struggled with insomnia, you know the anxiety that can occur when the clock starts approaching bedtime.
Will you be able to fall asleep? Will you lie in bed, awake, for hours, only to fall asleep shortly before your alarm clock goes off? Though it may seem hopeless, let me assure you that sound sleep can be yours.
Oftentimes it only takes some simple tweaks to your bedtime routine and, ironically, to your habits during the day to make sound sleep a reality.
Lack of Sleep Can Leave You Functionally Drunk
Before I delve into how to improve your sleep, let’s go over why it’s so important to do so. You probably already know that sleep is important — and that you feel lousy after a night with barely any shuteye.
However, you may be surprised by the results of a recent University of Michigan study, which found even six hours of sleep a night is too little and may leave you functionally impaired, similar to being drunk. University of Michigan mathematician and study author Olivia Walch said:1
“It doesn’t take that many days of not getting enough sleep before you’re functionally drunk Researchers have figured out that being overly tired can have that effect.
And what’s terrifying at the same time is that people think they’re performing tasks way better than they are. Your performance drops off but your perception of your performance doesn’t.”
Smartphone App Reveals Insights Into How the World Sleeps
In 2014, Walch and colleagues released a free app that recommends optimal lighting schedules for adjusting to new time zones (i.e., helping to reduce the effects of jet lag).
The app, called Entrain, asks users to input their sleep times, home time zone and typical lighting schedule, and it can also record hourly light and sleep schedules.
The researchers used data collected from the app to reveal trends in how people sleep around the world.2 Average sleep duration ranged from seven hours and 24 minutes for residents of Singapore to eight hours and 12 minutes for residents of the Netherlands.
This might not seem like a large discrepancy, but even 30 minutes of extra sleep can make a big difference in your health and ability to function. Other interesting facts revealed by the study included:3
Middle-aged men got the least sleep and often slept less than seven to eight hours a night. Women tended to schedule more time for sleep and slept about 30 minutes more per night than men. Women tended to go to bed earlier