Times are hectic. We justify less sleep in the name of work, getting a good grade, or stress keeps our mind over-active when it should be in dreamland. For others, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea are preventing them and their partners from getting a good night sleep.

Sleeping is just as important as proper nutrition and exercise. While the actual amount varies from person to person, the average adult needs 6 to 8 hours of sleep; children and teens need more and the elderly less.

Why do we need sleep? According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch article, “The Importance of Sleep and Health,” six things affected by our sleep are:

1. Learning and memory

2. Metabolism – weight gain is associated with not enough sleep.

3. Safety – poor concentration can cause accidents at work, home or driving.

4. Mood – irritability and depression are linked to not enough sleep.

5. Health – lack of sleep is linked to an increased blood pressure.

6. Immune system – lack of sleep weakens the body’s ability to fight disease.

These are just some of the reasons why sleep is important. While there is much research on sleep, it is an area that we still do not know a lot about. In the end, getting enough sleep elevates our mood, makes us feel productive and able to live active, healthy lives at work and at home. That seems to be reason enough.

Tips for a good night’s rest

1. Keep your room cool, dark and quiet as much as possible.

2. Avoid eating too much or too little at night.

3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or smoking close to bedtime.

4. Keep a consistent sleep schedule-weekends included.

5. Do something relaxing before going to bed.

6. If worrying is preventing sleep, write it down.

7. Get up and read a book or a magazine to settle your active mind (don’t watch TV).

8. If you are having trouble sleeping over a long period of time, you may have a medical condition and should discuss it with your doctor.