Ever since Thomas Edison created the first incandescent light bulb, the way people live changed forever. Human activity would no longer be limited to daylight hours. Because of this, the average American sleeps roughly three hours less each night. Over time, sleep patterns have changed even if our need for sleep has remained the same.
Sleep is essential for learning and consolidating our memories. But lack of sleep negatively affects our overall health and wellness. In fact, most of us don’t get enough sleep as we have become a society that burns the candle at both ends. Many people stay up all night to binge-watch Netflix or lurk on social media.
Consequences of sleep deprivation
Some would believe that missing out on several hours of sleep each night does not have any serious consequences. However, researchers suggest that people who consistently fail to get adequate sleep are at greater risk of having various diseases. So, to prevent this from happening, we should all treat sleep as a priority, rather than a luxury.
How much sleep do people need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs to sleep for seven to nine hours every night to restore and rejuvenate the body, repair tissue, grow muscle, and many others. Some believe that clocking in extra hours of sleep can make up for a prolonged period of being sleep deprived. But this is not exactly correct. Healthy sleep habits must be consistent so we can all keep up with the rigors of daily life.
Signs of having a sleep disorder
Everyone has a hard time sleeping every once in a while. But if this becomes an ongoing dilemma, then you must get a good night’s sleep as soon as possible. Also, you have to learn how to detect the signs of having a sleep disorder so you will know what to do next.
Here are five signs you should watch out for:
- You still feel tired even after a full night’s rest. There is a possibility that something is preventing your mind and body from immersing itself in deep and therapeutic levels of sleep.
- You snore or stop breathing during sleep. Snoring by itself is harmless. However, it is also a warning sign that you may have sleep apnea, a serious condition that obstructs the normal flow of air when you are breathing during sleep.
- You fall asleep during daytime. Do you nod off when you are reading something or while at work? If so, you might want to consider getting enough sleep. People who experience excessive sleepiness is a glaring sign of a sleep problem.
- You have trouble falling or staying asleep. If you’re having this problem for at least a month, you may be suffering from insomnia. Unfortunately, many people don’t seek help from doctors because they assume it is normal or their condition will eventually go away.
- You may have another health problem. People who have difficulty falling or staying asleep might be caused by another health issue such as chronic pain, depression, and other illnesses. So it is important to seek treatment from a doctor before it is too late.
The secret to better sleep
Many factors can interfere with a restful night’s sleep such as day-to-day pressures from work and family. But lucky for you, there are many sleep hacks you can follow to help improve the quality of your sleep. Try these simple but useful tips.
- Stick to a schedule. Sleep and wake up at the same time daily, even on weekends. Being consistent will help enforce your sleep-wake cycle and promote healthier sleep.
- Keep the lights off. Being exposed to any light source will prevent your body from producing melatonin, a sleep hormone that is naturally produced in the body to help us fall asleep.
- Use a comfortable bed. If you have trouble sleeping because of various body aches, you should consider investing on a new gel memory foam mattress to alleviate pressure points and joint pains.
- Exercise frequently. Including any type of physical activity in your daily routine can help you feel relaxed in the evening. Just make sure you don’t exercise a few hours close to bedtime.
- Watch what you drink. Avoid caffeinated beverages. The stimulating effects of caffeine take several hours to wear off. Also, don’t drink any alcohol to prevent late-night trips to the bathroom from disrupting your slumber.
- Unwind your mind and body. Keep any electronic devices away when it’s time for bed. They will only distract you from falling asleep. For your body, take a warm bath to relax aching muscles.
- Know when to see a doctor. If you’ve tried every sleep hack you can get your hands on and you still can’t fall asleep, consider visiting a professional sleep doctor for treatment.
It’s your turn
We'd like to know what sleep challenges you are experiencing right now. Are you still sleep-deprived despite your efforts? Comment below.