Most people know that experts recommend around seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, but more and more of us don’t get anywhere near that amount of rest on a consistent basis. Nearly 30% of adults admit that they are getting less than six hours of sleep at night, according to recent sleep study by the CDC.
Why Are We Losing Sleep?
So, why is it that everybody knows how the important sleep is, but very few people get enough of it? There are countless reasons that explain why people are not getting enough quality sleep. Some of the most common reasons are: working long hours, stressing over financial matters and relationships, preferring recreation over sleep, worrying about things we need to get done, and so on. Some medical issues can further disrupt rest, like sleep apnea, insomnia, and conditions that make lying down uncomfortable. While people may be aware that they aren’t getting enough sleep and probably even know the root cause of why they don’t, many people do not realize the severe implications that insufficient sleep has on their overall health.
Side Effects of Being Sleep Deprived
Several serious health risks are connected with inadequate sleep. People who do not sleep enough are at a higher risk of having diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, depression and obesity, plus a number of other chronic illnesses. It is thought that sleep deprivation affects our bodies on a genetic level, causing changes that bode poorly for our health.
There are other concerns as well such as slower response time and lack of alertness which could cause a serious accident or decrease one’s ability to thrive at work or in school. CDC’s study found that anywhere from 2 to 7.2% of people reported falling asleep while driving in the past month! In addition to real danger to yourself and others, not getting enough rest can make it difficult to process information or even carry out simple tasks. Getting enough rest is absolutely critical in order to function day to day but also is the foundations for you to be able to problem solve and think critically. Don’t let your lack of sleep determine your work or school record. It is important you get enough rest so you may always put your best foot forward and showcase your true abilities.
Sometimes a lack of sleep also makes us irritable and moody. Perhaps you do not show as much interest in things that you once did or you simply do not have the energy to participate in things that you once enjoyed. Lack of sleep can cause a general disinterest in life and greatly reduce the strength of your immune system. It may even make people simply not want to be around you because you aren’t as friendly or approachable as you once were, and can cause added stress in relationships. Sometimes inadequate sleep can bring about obvious consequences while other concerns are not as apparent. If you are experiencing any sign, big or small, that you are not getting enough rest there is something you can do about it.
Learn to Sleep Better
There are many simple things you can do to ensure that you are getting the best sleep possible. You should try to identify what is making it difficult for you to fall or stay asleep, or what in your schedule may be affecting your sleep window. From there you will know what adjustments you should make to ensure you are getting adequate rest.
There are a number of things that you may not have even considered that can actually make it very difficult for your body to relax and go to sleep. First, you should avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or eating a big meal before bed as these things can disrupt your sleep because they stimulate your body. Not having a regular routine can also send your body confusing signals, so it best to have fairly regular sleep and wake times.
Another thing you can do is to make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable. You can do this by ensuring that you have a comfortable mattress, the temperature in your room is slightly cool, and there is no sound or light that can interrupt your sleep. If you have difficulty falling asleep, ban electronics from your bedroom. Also, don’t stay in bed obsessing over sleep – get up and go read or relax in another room until you feel tired. These simple steps will help you get on your way to having a healthier lifestyle with more sleep, instead of getting caught up in the sleep epidemic.