Do you feel run down or have less energy lately? Do you find you have to pry yourself out of bed in the mornings? The problem may very well be that you are simply not getting enough sleep. There any many things that can get in the way of getting the proper amount of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night in order to function and feel good throughout the day. During days that can be especially rough, such as a bad day at the office or if you’re going through some difficult personal times, getting a good amount of sleep is even more important.
Do you get enough sleep?
Not getting enough sleep (6 hours or less) can have some serious side effects on your health and well-being. As we all know, losing sleep for just one night immediately makes you feel groggy, moody, and unfocused. A cup of coffee may do the trick to get you through the day, but it does not make up for what those extra hours of sleep does for your mind, body, and overall health.
Health Conditions from Lack of Sleep
Some of the more serious, potential side effects of regular sleep deprivation:
• Increased risk for heart disease – Causes the body to produce more calcium deposits, a predictor of coronary artery disease
• Increases stroke risk - Adults who regularly sleep fewer than six hours a night have four times the risk of stroke symptoms.
• Weight gain - Produces more of the hunger hormone ghrelin and limits leptin, the hormone that tells your brain how much to eat.
• Increased cancer risk – Recent studies have found a link between sleep loss and the development of cancerous polyps in the colon or rectum.
• Increases diabetes risk – Increases insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.
• Loss of concentration and memory – Maycause these side effects to become permanent. Sleep is important for properly storing our memories. It can also do damage to your brain by preventing the production of new neurons because it increases your levels of a stress hormone, corticosterone, which causes your hippocampus to produce fewer new brain cells.
• Premature aging - Interferes with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep.
• Increases your risk of dying from any cause.
Not Sleeping? It May Be Out of Your Control.
You may not be able to control everything that stops you from getting the best sleep, but you can certainly change your habits in order to improve your sleep. Here are some simple tips for better sleep:
• Stick to a sleep schedule.
No matter what day it is, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Going to bed around the same time every night can help your body recognize when it is time for sleep. If you can’t get to sleep right away, get out of bed and do something to relax your mind until you’re tired enough to go back to bed and fall asleep. Avoid sedatives, such as sleeping pills - their effects are not permanent and can actually hurt you in the long run.
• Control what you eat and drink before bed.
Do not go to bed hungry or when your stomach feels too full. Eat dinner a couple of hours before going to be. Be careful not to drink too much of anything before bed so that you’re not waking up often in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Coffee and caffeine should always be avoided a few hours prior to bed. Alcohol may make you feel more tired, but actually dehydrates you and causes you to wake up at random hours of the night.
• Have a relaxing bedtime routine.
During the hour before bedtime, do similar relaxing activities each night to ease your mind and prepare it for sleep. Reading a book or taking a warm bath can help put you in a mental state of relaxation. Avoid watching television or staring at your computer or iPhone before bedtime.
• Keep your room dark.
Keep the lights in your bedroom dim, make sure you have curtains to block out excessive sunlight at peak hours of the morning, or invest in a sleeping mask if necessary. Sleeping in dark environments allows our bodies to produce more melatonin, an important hormone for proper sleep.
• Check your room temperature.
Being too hot or too cold can disrupt a good night's sleep. The best temperature for a good night’s sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Exercise promotes better sleep as it helps you fall asleep faster and puts your body into a deeper sleep. People who are physically fit and healthy are much less likely to experience problems sleeping.However, avoid exercising right before bedtime. It takes your body a few hours to return to a resting state.
• Keep your stress level low.
Too much stress or worry keeps our minds running all day and all night, often causing us to stay up all night since our brains cannot settle down. Prioritize your life; get organized, have a daily schedule, practice good time management, and always make time for fun activities that you enjoy.
• Think twice about napping.
Taking naps after work or later in the day can cause you to stay up later at night, when it’s actually time for bed. Try to avoid naps eight hours before bedtime. If a nap is imperative, aim for twenty minutes or less, and do as early as possible. If you feel like napping later in the day, do an activity to wake yourself up like going for a run or even drinking some ice cold water.