Most of us use weekends to catch up on sleep just a little. But if you require extra sleep each weekend or are tired during the day, you are probably not getting enough sleep during the night.
Everyone's sleep requirements vary between 6-8 hours for an average healthy adult. Most people need around 8 hours but get substantially less than that every night.
Sleep deprivation takes its toll in many ways. You're more likely to lose your sense of humor and control of your emotions, be depressed and get sick. It can also be deadly. Driving while drowsy is responsible for more than 70,000 accidents a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sleep experts say Americans have not been adequately educated on the importance of healthy sleep. As a result, few Americans make sleep a priority. William Dement, M.D., founder and director of the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Center and author of the book The Promise of Sleep, considers the lack of awareness about sleep deprivation to be a national emergency: "The consequences of a sleep-deprived society include lost lives, lost income, disability, reduced productivity, accidents and decreased quality of family and social life." He adds that sleep actually has more influence on longevity than diet, exercise and heredity.
Are you sleep deprived?
"If you are falling asleep at times when you don't plan to, that's a sign you're not getting enough sleep," says Thomas Roth, director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich. Signs you're sleep deprived include: