Why is sleep so important?
- It helps us function physically and mentally throughout the day.
- Our immune systems rely on sleep to keep us healthy.
- Our brains process, store information and memories while we sleep.
Sleep deficiency can have serious consequences.
Have you ever gotten home and realized you don't remember driving or walking there? Have you ever felt like you missed a chunk of a conversation, even though you were paying attention? If so, you may have experienced microsleep and dozed off for just a few seconds. This phenomenon is most often caused by lack of sleep.
Microsleep refers to brief moments of sleep that occur when you're usually awake. An episode can last between 1 and 15 seconds. You can't control these episodes, and you may not even be aware that they've happened. Microsleep can occur anytime, which means it can be dangerous—in fact, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving is related to at least 100,000 motor-vehicle crashes and more than 1,500 deaths per year.
How can you make sure to get enough sleep?
Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation to help you get the rest you need:
- Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
- Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot or too cold.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music. Remove all TVs, computers, and other "gadgets" from the bedroom.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, and always avoid nicotine.