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Your Sleep Habits Can Affect Your Health

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Health

Does this sound familiar?

You stumble out of bed in the morning, feel your way to the kitchen, and desperately reach for the coffee pot, hoping that the caffeine will jolt you awake. But soon you find yourself drifting off.

In today's fast world, many, if not most people are just getting too little sleep and it is becoming a growing concern.

It has been estimated that one fourth to one half of all Americans get too little sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause many serious side effects, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

It can also reduce your body's ability to respond to sudden circumstances by slowing your reaction time when you may need it the most. This can be especially dangerous if you are driving a car or working machinery, causing a serious injury or even death.

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep disorders and sleep deprivation are costing Americans about 16 billion a year in health care. In addition, it is costing American businesses around 50 billion a year in lost man hours and work related injuries.

You probably already know that the average adult is recommended to get at least eight hours of sleep each night, but with today's hectic schedules, most people are getting far less than they need.

So what is the answer for this growing problem? The first thing many people do is to try an over the counter sleeping pill. But many sleep remedies are ineffective and can create more health problems than they cure.

Even if they prove to be effective, they certainly are not the long term solution.

The simplest answer would be to go to bed earlier, but for many people, even that would not solve the problem. Our minds are racing a mile a minute reviewing today's events, as well as planning for tomorrow.

The problem, in most cases, is that your body has been deprived of sleep for so long that it has been trained to accept that as normal. But for your body to perform, as it should, the proper amount of sleep is essential. It must be retrained for this.

The first step is to see your doctor to make sure that there is not a more serious problem.

If you are otherwise in good health, your doctor can recommend specific strategies and solutions to help you get the sleep you need.

Even if you do not think that you have a sleep disorder, consider how many hours of sleep you are getting each night. If you are getting less than seven hours, then you need to make some changes, for it will catch up to eventually at the most inopportune time.