Sleep deprivation is an epidemic in America. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2015 recommendations for appropriate sleep durations for specific age groups are:

•Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours 
•Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
•Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours
•Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours
•School-age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours
•Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours
•𝘼𝙙𝙪𝙡𝙩𝙨 (18 𝙩𝙤 64 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙨): 7 𝙩𝙤 9 𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨
•Older adults (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours

35% of U.S. adults are not getting the recommended minimum 7 hours of sleep each night. More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a new study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Let’s face it, life is busy. For many, sleep problems begin in college. Partying late, pulling all-nighters studying, large quantities of caffeinated beverages and alcohol... all the ingredients of sleep deprivation become a way of life for many college students.

Then we graduate and start our careers, often working late hours to make a good impression. As newlyweds and parents, we are up throughout the night and rarely get enough sleep. Just as our children start sleeping quietly through the night, parents often find themselves staying up late doing household chores or getting caught up on finances or work. It seems the cycle of sleepless nights that began in college for many of us often continues throughout adulthood.

Personally, I used to regularly stay up to 1 or 2am and then I was up at 7am for work. On a good night, I’d get maybe 5 or 6 hours of sleep. By lunch time I was already exhausted. Most afternoons I felt like I was sleepwalking through the hours leading up to dinner, often drinking sugary sodas or caffeinated energy drinks just to stay awake. Looking back, most days my productivity sucked and in the evenings I was generally irritable from pure exhaustion. Sadly, for many Americans this is the norm.

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝘆𝗺𝗽𝘁𝗼𝗺𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗹𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗱𝗲:

•depressed mood
•difficulty learning new concepts
•inability to concentrate or a "fuzzy" head
•lack of motivation
•increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings
•reduced sex drive

Sound familiar?

𝗔𝗱𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗹𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻

• Create a sleep sanctuary. Reserve it for sleep, intimacy, and other restful activities, like pleasure reading and meditation. Keep it on the cool side. Banish the television, computer, Blackberry, and other diversions from that space.

• Nap only if necessary. Night owls and shift workers are at the greatest risk for sleep debt. Napping an hour or two at the peak of sleepiness in the afternoon can help to supplement hours missed at night. But naps can also interfere with your ability to sleep at night and throw your sleep schedule into disarray.

• Avoid caffeine after noon, and go light on alcohol.

• Get regular exercise, but not within three hours of bedtime.

• If you're able to get enough sleep but don't feel refreshed in the morning, discuss the problem with your clinician. Many common medical conditions, from depression to sleep apnea (the condition in which breathing pauses during sleep), could be responsible. If you're finding it increasingly difficult to get enough sleep but don't have an underlying medical problem, consider consulting one of the 1,100 sleep centers accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (


Take your sleep seriously. Life is exhausting and we all need to take the time to recharge our batteries. Make sure you’re getting a minimum of 7 hours a night of sleep. Your health, your relationships, and your happiness depend on it.

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