Are you getting enough sleep? Many people aren’t, so don’t feel all alone. According to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one third of Americans are not getting the amount of sleep they need to wake up rested, refreshed and ready-to-go.
How much sleep do you need? Most experts agree the average adult needs between seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night to feel their best the next day. The Academy of Sleep Medicine considers at least seven hours of sleep healthy for adults between the ages of 18 to 60. Of course, the total amount of sleep required differs more or less for each individual. Some need less and some need more, but seven to nine hours is a good ballpark figure for most people.
Restful sleep, however, is the key concept. If you go to bed at ten PM, toss around before dozing off, wake up during the night and lie awake for a while and then get up and six AM, you may be in bed for eight hours, but you’re not getting eight hours of restful sleep and that’s what counts.
A Simple Sleep Scan
How can you tell if you’re getting the proper amount of sleep you personally require? Just ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I yawn all day?
- Do I drag around at work?
- Do I have trouble getting out of bed?
- Do I need an alarm to wake me up in the morning?
- Do I have trouble concentrating or remembering things?
If you answer yes to any one of these above questions, then you may be suffering from sleep deprivation and need to do something about it ASAP. You don’t want to doze off going down the highway at 60 mph, do you?
Dangers of Sleep Deficiency
Not getting enough sleep is very bad for your health. In fact, sleep is as important to your health as breathing, eating and exercising. During sleep, your body is preparing you physically and mentally to take on the next day 100% full out. In olden days, those who didn’t get enough sleep weren’t able to outfight, outrun or outwit their enemies, making getting enough sleep a matter of survival.
Sleep deprivation has a major negative effect on your –
- immune system,
- digestive system.
- respiratory system,
- and central nervous system.
Not getting enough sleep weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of colds, flu and other communicable diseases.
Sleepiness dumbs a person down, creating memory lapses, poor brain activity and cognitive dysfunction. It’s also a major cause of moodiness and depression.
Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, obesity, decreased libido and infertility.
Getting less than seven hours of sleep is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart attack and heart failure.
A recent review of sleep research found people who struggle with sleeplessness are more likely to experience accidents at work, home and on the road, are less satisfied with their employment and miss more days at work.
So you can see how important it is to get a good night’s sleep.
Causes of Lack of Sleep
Basically, there are three main reasons people experience a lack of sleep. They are:
1 Lifestyle choices – Choosing not to get enough sleep is all too common and probably the most likely cause of sleep deprivation. We live in a busy world and many believe sleeping is a waste of time. As far as they’re concerned, sleep is for the lazy. Others choose to follow a different sleep pattern on Friday and Saturday nights than they do during the week. This disruption causes “social jet lag” and trouble getting up in the morning on Monday.
Most people trying get by with less sleep also turn to caffeine or amphetamines to stay awake and alert, which only causes more sleep deprivation. According to research, those who try to self-medicate with alcohol to encourage sleep often end up with increased insomnia and a greater risk of developing alcoholism.
2 Lack of time – Other people, unfortunately, just don’t have enough free time to get the amount of sleep they need. Too many people have jobs that require them to work irregular shifts or long overtime hours, making it difficult for them to establish normal sleep patterns. Others have responsibilities that keep them from getting enough sleep, such as mothers of young infants or someone caring for an ill family member.
3 Medical conditions – Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, are the cause of a lack of sleep for many sufferers. Other medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and mental illness, have sleep problems as a side effect. Many women experience sleepless nights linked to hormonal changes. Certain medications have also been known to interfere with optimum sleep.
Remedies for Sleeplessness
Learning how to get a good night’s sleep will improve your health, help you stay slim, keep you wide awake and fully alert and support a happier and more content state of being and it’s not that difficult to do once you make the decision.
Here are three helpful tips for getting plenty of restful sleep.
1 Create the perfect bedroom. Make your sleeping room quiet, peaceful and dark. Choose a comfortable bed, covers and nightclothes. Eliminate all distractions – TV, laptops, smart phones etc. Keep the room and your body cool – not too hot and not too cold. If necessary, use supportive devices to encourage sleep. Earplugs or a sound machine can help block loud sounds. Eyeshades and dark blinds can eliminate any unwanted light.
2 Create a calming bedtime routine. Unwind from your busy day and get ready for a restful night with a dull book or some soothing music. Avoid all stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol with dinner or during the evening. Caffeine, for example, is known to activate stress hormones that can deter sleep for up to eight hours or more. Also, eating before bedtime can cause sleeplessness. Try taking a warm, relaxing candlelight bath a couple of hours before bedtime. As you cool down, you will start to feel sleepier.
3 Get plenty of exercise. Regular exercise done no later than early evening will reduce stress and help your body and mind relax. Just make sure you have enough time before bedtime for your body temperature to cool down after working out. Relaxation techniques – yoga, meditation, slow breathing, biofeedback, etc. – practiced during the day or in the evening will also help you calm down in preparation for sleep.
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is not only bad for your health. It can also be a matter of life and death. If you’re not getting plenty of restful sleep, now is the time to do something about it. And I don’t mean taking sleeping pills. Sleep medications have serious side effects and should be avoided. The above natural techniques have no serious side effects and have been proven to work.