For optimum health, we need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each day. Unfortunately, millions of Americans consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, which harms their health and negatively impacts the economy.

In a report published last November, researchers from RAND Corp., a non-profit group, found that this chronic sleep deprivation costs the economy around $411 billion or 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. Businesses lose roughly 1.2 million working days each year from employees who either take time off due to burnout or work inefficiently due to sleep deprivation.

From a healthcare perspective, persistent lack of sleep is a factor in seven of the 15 leading causes of death in the USA, which include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and accidents. In short, not getting enough sleep is not a sign of greater productivity or drive, but a risk to both one’s health and success at work.

Sleep Hygiene

Typical factors associated with sleep deprivation include being overweight, smoking, drinking sugary drinks, being physically inactive and encountering mental health challenges. Although addressing these issues successfully often requires consulting with a healthcare provider, it is possible to develop healthy habits that can improve your ability to get sufficient, high-quality sleep. Here are three ways you can help yourself get a good night’s sleep:

1. Wake-up at the same time every day

In recent research, waking up at the same time every day helps those with insomnia reset their sleep patterns. Developing this habit conditions your body to become tired at the same time every night, which helps establish a regular sleep rhythm. As you progress, you will find that staying awake past your normal bedtime will result in an urge to go to sleep earlier the next night. Going to bed earlier is a healthier method of catching up on lost sleep than sleeping in the next morning.

2. Do not use your electronic devices right before bed

The light and darkness of the day-night cycle helps us establish a regular sleeping pattern. In the morning, the increasing light of the sun triggers photoreceptors in the eye’s retina to signal the brain to wake us up. Studies have shown that electronic devices like our smartphones are bright enough to miscue the brain at nighttime and promote wakefulness. Use of screens before bedtime can actually suppress levels of melatonin, a hormone that plays a vital role in controlling sleep and wake cycles. Avoid using electronic devices close to bedtime and in bed.

3. Exercise regularly

Research also links moderate physical activity to improved sleep. When we exercise, our body temperature rises. Once we stop, the subsequent temperature drop can promote sleepiness. In this

way, even as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day can help reset sleep cycles. Additionally, activity helps reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms associated with insomnia.

Ultimately, lack of sleep can significantly affect the quality of your health and work. If you feel chronically tired or are having difficulty sleeping, visit www.videomedicine.com or simply download the app from iTunes or Google Play, to speak with a VideoMedicine healthcare provider anytime, anywhere.