Can you remember the last time you got a good night’s sleep? If the answer is no, you are one of millions of people whose health is probably suffering from chronic long-term sleep deprivation.
Even occasionally not getting enough time in the sack – termed acute sleep loss – can present a variety of symptoms. One of them is memory loss. So is fatigue (not surprisingly), decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, obesity, pain, and even hallucinations.
How much sleep is enough sleep, you ask? The answer from Medical Daily is seven to nine hours every 24 hours. Are you getting your recommended daily slumber allowance?
When in doubt, listen to your body. If you wake up with a smile on your face and full of pep after a 7-hour repose, then that’s probably enough – for you. But if you are “dragging axle” and your “get up and go” has got up and went, then you undoubtedly need more rest.
Sleep deprivation is so powerful that it is used as a torture method. This should tell everyone how important it is to prioritize getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
But do we listen? Apparently not. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) – yes, there was one – conducted surveys from 1999-2004 and found that at least 40 million Americans have a sleep disorder, and 60 percent of adults had trouble sleeping a few nights a week or more. These people never reported their symptoms and never got treatment. They just suffer in silence.
When considering sleep, quality counts as much as quantity. We can get by with less time sleeping as long as we sleep deeply and complete the natural brain wave cycles that make up the REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stages of human sleep.
Not getting enough deep sleep weakens the body’s immune system and overall health. If you are tired all the time, feel uninspired, and crab at your family and friends, try getting an extra hour of sleep a night. Do what it takes to adjust your schedule to allow more pillow time, if you possibly can.
The British Mirror has provided a lengthy list of techniques you can do when you have trouble falling asleep. Here are some of them:
• Determine the best time to sleep
• Find out if you have insomnia
• Train yourself to fall quickly into a deep sleep (listen to soothing music and get a good pillow)
• Set the right temperature
• Exercise between 4pm-7pm
There are also lots of high-tech gadgets to help ensure a good night’s sleep. Check out these innovative solutions from Today:
• A light which produces natural melatonin, the brain hormone that causes drowsiness
• A belt that regulates breathing to promote falling asleep faster and sleeping longer
• Various white (background) noise and color apps for relaxation
• Cooling linens
• A headband that uses brainwave sensors to track sleep patterns featuring binaural tones to wake you up or help you fall into a deep sleep
• A system that detects snoring (which interferes with deep sleep) and then “sends movements into the pillow to stop the person from snoring before it’s loud enough to wake anyone up” – brilliant!
If you have still trouble sleeping, try to figure out why: uncomfortable bed or mattress? snoring partner? ambient noise level? lighting? worried?
Then, to the best of your ability, address each obstacle between you and a good night’s sleep. If nothing you can do works, it might be wise to consult with your healthcare provider about treating insomnia. However, turn to pharmaceutical therapies only as the last resort for sleeplessness.
Instead of becoming dependent on sleeping pills, before bed, try turning off the TV and meditating. Or read a book. Plan your next day. Avoid alcohol right before you retire – although it is a depressant, it may keep you awake.
If all else fails, you can always try counting sheep.