BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Get enough sleep or risk an earlier death. Sound dramatic? It's supposed to. Doctors say the public needs to know that sleep is just as important to health as nutrition and exercise, and
But catching enough Zzzzs can be easier said than done. 9News asked locals how much sleep they get, and if they think it's adequate.
"I get maybe six, seven hours, and yeah, it usually works for me," said a hotel employee.
"Six hours and probably not," countered a guest.
"I get about four or five hours. I'm a late owl," said a local restaurant worker.
"I get about seven to nine hours of sleep, and I think that's enough," added another man.
The latter is correct. According to The National Sleep Foundation, less than seven hours or more than nine could be detrimental to the health of an adult. Teens and children need more sleep, and many don't get it, especially during the school year.
"Adolescents, actually you need nine to ten hours, and that is one of the key issues in the state of Louisiana," said Dr. David Thomas, medical director of the Sleep Center at the Spine Hospital of Louisiana within the NeuroMedical Center. "They're required to get up way too early in the morning when their brains are not ready to learn."
Thomas recently attended the national SLEEP conference in Seattle, a joint meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
A team of 15 sleep experts concluded that adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, preferably more.
"The good thing about it is, this is now documented based upon some literature and some actual data rather than opinion," Thomas said.
New recommendations from the American Thoracic Society call for the development of age-based sleep guidelines for children, better education for health care providers about common sleep disorders, and talk therapy rather than medication to treat insomnia.
"We're trying to move American society or western society back to where it should be, because we have a lot of comorbidities in this country," Thomas explained. "Obesity is related to poor sleep habits. People who are overweight don't sleep well, and that not sleeping well causes you to gain more weight."
Sleeping fewer than six hours per night has also been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
But too much sleep can be bad too. Thomas said adults who sleep more than nine hours each night could suffer from depression, prediabetes, congestive heart failure, or hypertension.
A new website, Sleep.org, was just launched by The National Sleep Foundation to explain how sleep affects the body and give tips to improve sleep health.
"In early parts of sleep you secrete growth hormones," Thomas explained. "That repairs your body, or if you're a young child, it makes you grow vertically, grow stronger. In other parts of sleep the brain rests. In other parts, the brain stores information and reorganizes it."
With so many children overscheduled during the school year, experts say some downtime is critical over the summer for kids and parents.
"About a quarter of kids with attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity may just be a function of not good quality sleep," Thomas said.