You’re getting sleepy. Your eyes are getting heavy. You’re falling deeper into sleep… and all of a sudden you’re awake and alert! Has this ever happened to you? If so, don’t worry; you are not alone. An estimated 3.3 million Canadians age 15 or older reported having sleep problems, while according to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 18% averaged less than 5 hours of sleep a night. Dr. Phyllis Zee and Fred Turek of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago write, “the theme that emerges throughout this issue is that sleep serves as an indicator of health and quality of life.” Experts say that the amount of sleep required varies from person to person however, an adult should sleep for 7 hours each night while a child or adolescent requires 9 to 10 hours of sleep.
Sleep is very important as it helps your brain commit new information. Studies show that those who slept after learning new information did better on tests compared to those that did not.
Sleep also affects your metabolism and weight. In 2004, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that sleep loss reduced the body’s ability to regulate hormones that controlled hunger. This meant that many people who had a lack of sleep had an increase in appetite. Their food choices started drifting towards high carbohydrate foods. Another study presented by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that those who had a lack of sleep were less likely to cook their own food, and more likely to dine at a fast-food outlet or restaurant, or even order take out. This affected many people, causing them to rapidly gain weight.
Many people reported that they experience mood swings quite often due to lack of sleep. They felt impatient, irritable, or unable to concentrate. This is very typical in those that slept less than seven hours.
If you’re looking for treatment for sleep insomnia, try consulting your doctor to see what medications would work best for you. Experts suggest that sleeping pills for insomnia should be used only for temporary sleep relief problems, however, consult your physician to see if the medication is right for you.