2YH: Healthy sleep habits could add years to your life

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The National Sleep Foundation says that on average, people spend a third of their lives sleeping, and that not getting quality sleep can cause serious health problems.

And, a growing body of research suggests that your lifespan can be increased or decreased based on your sleep habits.

Jennifer Hines at the Alaska Sleep Clinic says one way to get better sleep is before you hit the lights, turn off your electronics.

"When it gets dark, your body starts releasing melatonin, that's how your body knows it's time to go to sleep. But if you are looking at a screen, your body does not release that melatonin," Hines said.

Hines said sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing irregularly starts and stops during sleep and that can cause sleep deprivation, has similar characteristics as another common problem: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Young sufferers of sleep apnea often have difficulty concentrating, lack the ability for deep focus.

"Kids who don't concentrate or are very irritated about the smallest things, that is going to happen if you don't get your kids on a regular sleep schedule," Hines said.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need at least eight to ten hours of sleep while school-age children need nine to eleven hours.