The Fatigue Epidemic
We have an epidemic in the United States, and its name is fatigue. If you’re among America’s walking tired—and let’s face it, you probably are—your lack of sleep may be putting you at risk.
In this course, you’ll learn about sleep and how it works. You’ll also discover the secret power of napping and how to develop practices for getting more and better sleep in your life.
Let’s start by understanding the effects of sleep on your body and brain.
When you don’t sleep enough, your brain doesn’t work as well. Your judgment becomes impaired. Your reaction time slows. You just don’t operate well.
Drivers who are sleep-deprived have been found to function as if they were drunk. Sleep-deprived workers have more on-the-job accidents.
Sleepy doctors and nurses make more mistakes.
Tired students perform worse in school.
The sleep-deprived may also be more depressed. They tend to have higher levels of chronic stress and can be more inclined toward alcohol and drug abuse. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, thus creating a vicious cycle. The physical effects of poor sleep can be serious. Sleeplessness increases the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
The bottom line is that we need our sleep. But we’re not getting it.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between 26 and 64 years of age get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and between 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night over 65. Yet on the whole, we average around 6 and a half hours of sleep. That means a whole lot of us are getting a whole lot less sleep than we need. Sleep deprivation is becoming the norm. And a good way to keep that from happening to you is to learn how it works and what you can do to get more of it.
Better sleep may help improve almost all aspects of your life.
By learning how to sleep better, you may lower your risk of chronic disease, better manage stress, be more successful at work, become a better partner in your relationships, and feel more creative. You might even live longer.
Over the next several lessons, you’ll learn what happens to your brain and body when you sleep. You’ll also learn new habits that may improve your ability to sleep well. And you’ll learn more about the secret power of naps.
Before we move forward, let’s cover an important point. If you experience difficulty sleeping or if you’re concerned about the quality of your sleep, we encourage you to speak to your doctor about it. Sleep problems might be a sign of an underlying physical or psychological health issue.
With that said, let’s move on. Tomorrow, we’ll start by learning the various sleep stages.
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