Sleep Awareness Week & Alarming Facts Surrounding Mental Distress

WACO, TX – There are some alarming numbers to consider surrounding inadequate sleep during the 25th anniversary of Sleep Awareness Week (March 12 – 18), such as increased mental distress and billions of dollars.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) says insufficient sleep has an economic impact of $411 billion in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine define adequate sleep as seven or more hours. The CDC cites a recent study concluding that one-third of Americans get less sleep than recommended and that inadequate sleep can increase mental distress.

Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network (HOTBHN) professionals stress that adequate sleep is vital for mental health.

“In general, sleep is significant to our mental health in that it is the time our brains set aside to process emotional information and is as essential to our well-being as food, water, and breathing,” says Elizabeth Timmons, Director of the Heart of Texas Counseling Center, an affiliate of HOTBHN. “Lack of adequate sleep, think REM sleep, will affect our ability to maintain cognitive skills such as learning and memory. Poor sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with day-to-day challenges.”

For children and teenagers, sleep is even more crucial.

“Due to physical growth and the child/teenager’s rapid brain development, sleep is essential for them to be able to regulate their feelings throughout the day properly,” says Katrina Chadwell, Child & Adolescent Therapist for HOTBHN’s Klaras Center for Families. “Children and teenagers require more sleep than adults, and if they are not getting proper sleep, they will often act out behaviorally, struggle socially, and struggle academically in school. The most important thing for anyone regarding sleep, especially for children and teenagers, is a consistent sleep schedule. As humans, our brains thrive off of patterns and consistency.”

There are tips for people who want to get adequate sleep.

“It is important to unplug from all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime,” says Mary Walker, Coordinator & Lead for the HOTBHN/Waco Family Medicine Integrated Clinic. “A warm bath and meditation also work well. However, everyone is different, so they must find what works for them.”


Tanya Ledesma, Public Information Coordinator Cell: (254) 640-5229

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