hFood, water, air, shelter and sleep.  Those are the Big 5 things that everyone needs.  Everybody needs a good dose of restful sleep to stay healthy and thrive…but the amount of sleep changes throughout the lifetime.  Last week, the National Sleep Foundation came out with some interesting and helpful recommendations for how much sleep folks need at various ages. 

When people don’t get a good night’s sleep it’s harder to focus and easier to forget things.  It’s happened to me, and you’ve probably felt this way, too.  Once I turned 50 that I started waking up at 3 a.m. and struggled to fall back to sleep.  I found a simple solution – I keep a chewable melatonin tablet next to my water glass and take it whenever I wake up in the middle of the night.  Most of the time, I fall back to sleep.  

Science also shows that you are more likely to get sick if you’re not getting enough sleep and that your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease goes up too. There’s also a study that shows not enough sleep can cause weight gain.  You can also have slower reaction times that could lead to car wrecks. 

One way to ensure you’re getting what you need, make sleep a priority just like you do with meals and water. Try scheduling your sleep like you do other activities; don’t let sleep be something you do after you’ve finished everything else – and practice good sleep hygiene.