The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep for optimal health. Even though we spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, most people know little about it. Our two sleep states are REM, or rapid eye movement, and non-REM. While dreams occur in our REM periods, our deepest and most restorative sleep occurs during non-REM.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION SYMPTOMS
Feeling tired or irritable? Chances are you might need better sleep habits. More than 70 million Americans suffer with a sleep disorder. This sleep deprivation increases your risk for larger health concerns, such as weight gain, memory loss, high blood pressure, fatigue, and mood problems. Relationships suffer when we don’t get enough sleep, and we create unsafe situations at work, home, or on the road.
Everyone experiences an “off” night with their sleep pattern. However, when you consistently get less sleep than normal, you fall into a “sleep debt.” The higher the debt, the greater the chance of problems. Physical symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
- Morning grogginess
- Frequent yawning
- Dozing off while sitting, watching TV or even driving
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes
COMMON SLEEP STRUGGLES
Difficulty falling asleep, waking too early, or having trouble falling back asleep could all point to insomnia. These concerns should be discussed with your doctor or a mental health professional.
Snoring can be indicative of sleep apnea, where breaks in breathing occur during your sleep. This can be quite dangerous, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your doctor can order a sleep study and answer other questions.
GOOD SLEEP INGREDIENTS
The following suggestions can help create the ideal sleeping environment.
- Temperature – Think cool when it comes to your room temperature. Taking a hot shower or bath before bed will rapidly lower your temperature, helping you relax. Cooler temperatures promote better sleep.
- Light – Consider dimming your bedroom lights an hour or two before sleeping. Avoid computer or TV screens right before bed, which prohibits the hormone melatonin from flowing naturally.
- Noise – If your neighborhood is noisy, try wearing earplugs or playing white noise to keep the sound out.
✓ Create a routine – Create a regular schedule to train your body to sleep well. Go to bed and wake at the same time, even on weekends. Form a bedtime routine by taking a warm shower or reading.
✓ Limit naps – Reduce afternoon naps to 30 minutes or less.
✓ Watch your diet – Avoid going to bed on an empty or too full stomach. Limit beverages to curb nighttime bathroom trips, and avoid caffeine or alcohol before bed.
✓ Be proactive – If you can’t fall asleep after
15 minutes, get up and do something. Then return to bed once you feel sleepy.
KEEP IN MIND
Dealing with restless or interrupted sleep can be frustrating. Consider talking with your medical doctor for more information about persistent sleep problems.
What healthy habits will you create and maintain to maximize your sleep? Try talking to a counselor today about setting healthy sleep patterns.