Are you making sleep a priority in your life? If you find yourself consistently exhausted in the morning and zoning out during the day, chances are your sleep is being sacrificed! It’s time for you to rethink your relationship with sleep.
Though a healthy life can’t be attained without proper sleep, this area of wellbeing is often neglected. As sleep deprivation can result in depression, obesity, and adverse health effects, everyone can benefit from taking a good, hard look at their own sleep habits and begin working to improve them.
The Importance of Sleep
According to Harvard University Medical School, a staggering 75% of adults have trouble sleeping multiple times a week. This can often be attributed to stress, changes in your sleep habits, and a number of other factors that we’ll review later on. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation claims that a short-term lack of sleep can cause daytime lethargy, forgetfulness, and anxiety.
Chronic insomnia is more worrisome to experts, as the long-term consequences of poor sleep can include weight gain, stroke, high blood pressure, and even an increased risk of heart attack. Not only does a well-rested body provide the mind with clarity, The Huffington Post claims that healthy sleep patterns keep your heart healthy, strengthen your immune system, and improve your mood.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke claims that sleep needs vary by age:
- The average adult requires 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Teens best benefit from 9 hours, while infants require a whopping 16 hours of shuteye for their rapidly developing brains.
As little as 1.5 hours less than a person’s recommended amount of sleep can result in a “sleep debt!” If you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’re not excluded from rethinking your sleep… falling asleep within five minutes of lying down is, in fact, a common symptom of an unfulfilled sleep debt!
Let’s take a look at how you fall asleep. To achieve a healthy sleep routine, there are a number of rituals and environmental factors within your control that you can practice on a nightly basis. Read on for a few tips to help you develop a healthy nighttime routine:
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime.
- Exercise can promote good sleep.
- Food can be disruptive to our sleep schedule.
- Ensure adequate exposure to natural light.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
- Associate your bed with sleep.
- Make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing.
We also suggest turning off the TV and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
According to The National Institute of Health, there are 81 major sleep disorders- each falling into one of the eight classifications:
- The insomnias
- The sleep-related breathing disorders
- The hypersomnias of central origin
- The circadian rhythm sleep disorders
- The parasomnias
- The sleep-related movement disorders
- Isolated symptoms, apparently normal variants and unresolved issues
- Other sleep disorders
WebMD points out that sometimes even the most stringent sleep hygiene routines can fail to produce the recommended amount of sleep due to undiagnosed sleep disorders. If this is the case, it might be time to seek the assistance of a sleep specialist.
Should You Reassess Your Sleeping Habits?
Keep in mind that everyone has different sleeping requirements, so, if you fall slightly outside the perimeters outlined above, you shouldn’t necessarily consider it a problem. However, this is a great time to stop and take a look at your relationship with sleep. If you’ve been finding yourself feeling sluggish during the day, your sleep hygiene could be the culprit.