Trouble Sleeping? Read This!

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. According to the CDC however, about a third of Americans get fewer than six hours of sleep every night. But insomnia is actually more common among women than men. Without sleep, we have a harder time feeling optimistic and having gratitude. Weirdly, we also find it harder to have a sense of humor. And unfortunately, sleep deprivation can cause some seriously impaired driving.

Sleep is arguably more critical than a healthy diet and exercise. Of course not eating right and limited exercise can affect how well you sleep but making an effort to get a good night's sleep every night can pay off. It is not news that we need sufficient sleep to maintain our health.  Yet despite this knowledge, and advice from media and medical communities alike, many of us struggle to get enough sleep every night. This has led many Americans to seek help from their doctors in order to get the sleep they need to stay healthy.

So what happens when we don’t get enough sleep? The effects are similar to being intoxicated.  Trying to go through your day deprived of sleep will leave you feeling tired, irritable and foggy.  This is no way to stay productive or healthy.  Some less well known effects of sleep deprivation are an increased risk of heart disease, a decreased ability to remember, an increased risk of diabetes, and an increased risk of depression.  Furthermore when you don’t get enough sleep, you increase your risk of weight gain and obesity.  Sleep is required for your body to process glucose properly and regulate insulin as it should. Many studies have shown people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.

Chronic low quality sleep can cause health problems in the long term. Some of these issues often are: 

·       Increased risk of heart disease

·       Increase stroke risk

·       Weight gain

·       Increased cancer risk

·       Increase diabetes risk

·       Loss of concentration and memory

·       Premature aging

The general guideline for sleep is eight hours, however everyone is different and requires a different amount of sleep to be their most productive self.  Find your ideal amount of sleep and work on the quality of that time to feel more rested and rejuvenated.  You can get better quality sleep by creating a good sleep routine and getting your body and mind ready for a restful night’s sleep.

Here are some helpful tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

       Don’t drink anything with caffeine after dinner. This will only make it harder to fall asleep.

       Keep screens out of sight. The glow from electronics signals your body to wake up when you are trying to power down.

       Don’t drink anything with alcohol in it. Although it will help you get to sleep, the properties of alcohol actually depress your sleep cycle as well your metabolism.

       Minimize distractions in the bedroom. Your bedroom is for sleep, and it is good for your body to associate it with a relaxing setting, free of things that will keep you awake.  Make sure TVs, other electronics, work, pouncing animals, etc. are out of sight.

       Read. Or do something else, like taking a relaxing bath, before bed.  This will help your body and mind turn down and get ready for a good night’s sleep.