The importance of sleep should not be something that is underestimated. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has founded and published on how essential sleep is to ensure a healthy lifestyle and overall wellbeing of the self. That being the case, there are so many people in the world who simply do not get the right amount of sleep at night. Millions of people suffer from a lack of sleep. As per NSF, there are about 40 million Americans who suffer from sleep disorders and about 60 per cent of adults have reported having problems with their sleep on a frequent basis. Without a proper rest at night, you end up feeling drained and tired the following day. It goes without saying that the importance of sleep should not be overlooked. Another result of sleep deprivation is the feeling of daytime sleepiness, which is experienced by more than 40 per cent of adults. This can be really troublesome in your daily life. Further to this, 69 per cent of children experience sleep difficulties a few nights a week. With these many statistics pointing towards the lack of sleep, it is important to understand sleep better and figure out what would work best for you to ensure a good night’s rest.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
There are many traits that accompany a lack of sleep or sleep deprivation. You can often find yourself moody and irritable. These are some of the easiest ways to spot the effects of sleep deprivation. If you feel tired in the morning and find yourself losing your temper for no good reason, this could all be due to the fact that you are not getting enough sleep at night. These early signs should not be ignored, for ignoring them could have more drastic consequences on your health. If the sleep disorder is not cured at this stage of recognition, there is a high chance that it could cause emotional havoc on your life. Emotional imbalances are a serious effect of sleep deprivation, mood swings will become common and your ability to emotionally respond to a situation will be hampered.
Further to this, a lack of sleep could cause serious problems with your memory. Impaired memory is another serious effect of sleep deprivation, something that could lead to dementia in the long run. Slurred speech and the inability to perform daily activities are further effects that could cause havoc on your life and wellbeing. Hence it is very important that you get sufficient sleep and rest, and this cannot be emphasised enough.
If a person finds themselves sleepy during the day, this could lead to a phenomenon known as microsleeps; which last for roughly five to ten seconds. You would fall asleep for a very short period of time and come awake. This can be very troublesome for your attention span, often affecting negatively on it. Imagine nodding off during driving, this could be very dangerous to you and others. This can also make the task of studying rather difficult. When this happens, you should seriously consult a doctor for help for otherwise you would develop hypnagogic hallucinations.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
The amount of sleep every person needs varies from person to person. That being the case, when considered at optimum, adults generally are made for about 16 hours of woken activity. This means on average, you would require roughly 8 hours of sleep. Many health professionals recommend 8 hours of sleep as a general guideline for good health; for it amounts to sufficient rest which your body needs.
That being the case, there are many people who are capable of performing daily activities without feeling drowsy, with as little as six hours of sleep. Though this is the case, this should be considered as the exception and not the example. 8 hours of sleep is what is generally recommended for optimum rest and performance.
Cause of Sleep Disorders
There are numerous causes of sleep deprivation and disorders. Health professionals have identified four main areas which are responsible for sleep disorders. The trouble with your brain or nervous system could be direct reasoning as to why you are experiencing troubled sleep. Stress is one of the key factors which account for bad sleep. That coupled with depression has shown to produce low quality sleep, often waking in the middle of the night with trouble going back to sleep. Further to this, problems with your cardiovascular system could also be the reason for any sleep disorder which you may be experiencing. A bad heart or trouble with your blood pressure could cause ineffective circulation of blood in your body. Good circulation of blood in your sleep is what helps you sleep better. Hence any sleep disorder you may have could be a clear cut sign of improper cardiovascular health.
Nutrition plays a huge role in the type of sleep that you get and the amount of sleep to further state. Your metabolic functions and your metabolic rate will also decide the quality of sleep. Hence good nutrition to boost your metabolic rate would result in better sleep. Bad nutrition is a direct cause of sleep disorders. Consuming too much processed sugar could cause havoc on your metabolism, resulting in hampered sleep patterns over time. Furthermore, if you have a weak immune system and are susceptible to more diseases, this directly correlates to the quality of sleep. The stronger your immune system, the better sleep you would get. Thus it is very important to build your immune system with good nutrition and plenty of exercises.
Alcohol and drug abuse is another factor that causes disturbed sleep patterns. Hence it is important to stay away from drugs and keep an eye on your alcohol intake. Obesity and emotional disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder could be another reason why you have trouble sleeping. If you experience trouble sleeping for a long duration of time, it is best to consult your GP to get advice on what to do.
Stress and Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is also another reason for bad sleep, and is one of the most common triggers of sleep disorders in adults. Drinking in moderation normally does not have negative effects on your sleep, but regular intake of alcohol or in large quantities could be the reason for troubled sleep. Large amounts of alcohol intake cause disruptions in your sleep patterns. A disrupted sleep pattern is difficult to fix, which will result in you developing a sleep disorder over time.
Health Problems and Quality of Sleep
Sleep disorders are directly linked to cardiovascular health. If you suffer from bad sleep, this could be a sign that there is a risk to your cardiovascular health. Depression and bipolar disorder are both health problems that could cause you to suffer from insomnia. Many people with depression have complained of the inability to fall asleep, as a result of which, over time they had developed insomnia. In such an instance, it is best to consult a health practitioner to get the correct advice that you would need to treat your depression, which will have marvellous results on the quality of sleep.
Sleep Disturbance with Children
Children often experience nightmares at night, which could keep them awake and break their sleep cycle. These are common in the REM sleep of children and usually involves the child waking up suddenly with a good recall memory of what had happened in the dream.
Sleep terrors, the extreme form of nightmares. Much like nightmares, these mostly occur with children. Unlike nightmares, these sleep terrors take place in non-REM sleep. These often cause the child to experience sweating and increased blood pressure. Usually, the child screams in their sleep and is terrified in the process. The screaming usually continues for several minutes upon which they relax gradually and fall back to sleep. Sleep terrors can be combined with the phenomenon of sleep-walking and the child usually does not remember this encounter.
Tendencies of Sleepiness
Sleepiness takes a massive toll on the ability of a person to make sound decisions. When given tasks to perform, sleepiness can cause agitation. Sleepy people tend to quit tasks much easier and often underperform well-rested people. They tend to act moody and when it comes to work, are unorganised and often ineffective to illustrate results. They find themselves in an endless routine of daily tasks which can become mundane and draining, often causing serious emotional problems to develop over time.
There can be some drastic consequences to sleepiness, for sleepy people, in general, tend to be more careless with daily tasks. Be it driving or cooking, the chance of accidents is greatly increased. Falling asleep while driving is linked to at least 100,000 crashes a year, which account for 1550 deaths.
Sleep disorders could interfere with a child’s ability to perform in school. Children who complain of bad sleep tend to underperform students in their class, due to excessive tiredness during daytime and the inability to pay attention in class. They often find themselves sleepy and tend to doze off during lessons.
How to Get Better Sleep?
So with all the problems that accompany the lack of sleep, the importance of sleep is not something that should be reiterated. However, I’m sure you as the reader are aware of the problems involved with the lack of sleep and after reading this word to word, would like to know what to do to ensure you get better sleep at night. There are some excellent things to remember when trying to get better sleep. Keep reading this word to word and you will get a clear idea of what to do to ensure that you are well-rested at night and that you get ample sleep to ensure a healthy and productive lifestyle.
First and foremost, what is very important is consistency. Make sure to maintain a schedule when it comes to sleep. Sleep at the exact same time every night to train your brain to fall asleep faster at a given time. Many people who develop sleep disorders do so due to ignorance with regards to bedtime. So ensure that you have a set bedtime and a set wake time. This way, your body gets accustomed over time to getting the hours of sleep it needs. Remember, even with sleep, practice makes perfect.
Caffeine should be avoided altogether. It is one of the main reasons why people have trouble sleeping at night. Drinking caffeine too close to bedtime makes it very difficult for you to fall asleep, as a result of which you will experience a break in the schedule of sleep that we spoke of earlier. Hence avoid eating or drinking caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize caffeine use during the day if avoiding is not possible.
Smoking is another disastrous habit which when performed close to bedtime could result in bad sleep patterns and a broken sleep cycle. If you wake in the middle of the night for a smoke, this could greatly disturb your sleep pattern and make it difficult for you to get the proper rest which your body requires. Further to this, you should avoid alcohol before sleeping. Drinking large quantities of alcohol greatly affects the quality of sleep and you will often find yourself waking up the next day feeling tired and sometimes feeling sick.
With that in mind, it is very important to ensure that you get plenty of regular exercises and maintain good levels of fitness. The higher your metabolic rate, the better sleep you will get. Not to mention the fact that exercise makes you tired, which resultantly makes it easier for you to fall asleep at night. Further to this, regular exercise and physical activity have been shown to produce better quality sleep in people who have partaken in sleep studies.
It is good to ensure that you create a good environment in which you can sleep in. Regulate the temperature to ensure that it is neither too hot nor too cold to ensure that your body temperatures are well maintained during rest. Decrease the light exposure, dim them or turn the lights off altogether to ensure better sleep. Your eyes during sleep are accustomed to the dark and you will get better sleep if you make sure that the light in the room is regulated or turned off. It is also good to ensure that you lower the amount of noise in or around the room. Try to maintain a quiet and silent atmosphere in and around the room to prevent distractive noises which could keep you up at night.
Further ensuring that you maintain a sleep schedule to get the same number of hours of sleep every night, it is vital that you ensure to develop a bedtime. At first, this can be a cumbersome activity, sleeping every day at the same time. However, over time, your body will train itself to ensure that you fall asleep at a particular time, and you will find yourself sleepy when the clock draws near. Hence train yourself to maintain a daily bedtime.
The natural sleep cycle makes it possible for you to wake up without the need for an alarm. It is when you train your body clock to wake up at a particular time, you see yourself no longer needing the alarm to wake up in the morning. Many people absolutely hate the sound of the alarm. Waking up without the sound of the alarm and training your body clock to wake up in the morning will leave you waking up with a fresher mindset. If you see yourself sleeping in, it is also a good thing to try to go to bed earlier every night for a period of time. This will help you get up earlier in the morning, and in due course, your body clock will get accustomed to the time which you usually wake up.
If you have trouble sleeping, you can consult a therapist or physician who can direct you towards cognitive behavioural therapy, which could help you resolve your sleep disorder. Studies show that cognitive behavioural therapy is more effective in managing sleep disorders and often, the results last for a longer period of time as opposed to sleep medication.
Lastly, if you are experiencing sleep difficulties, you should try to ensure that you don’t eat a large meal just before bed. Eating right before bed makes it difficult for your body to digest the food, which then resultantly keeps you up for a longer period of time. It also causes bad sleep patterns caused by a broken sleep cycle. So make sure you eat your dinner or supper well before your bedtime. Another thing that you need to remember when it comes to food is, good nutrition is key. Make sure you get a well-balanced meal plan for the day, to ensure that your body is well-fed. The better you eat, the better you sleep. Hence, eat healthy as much as possible. For those looking to make healthy meals on a budget, just follow the link to the related article.
Nutrition and Sleep: What to Eat for Better Sleep
When it comes to sleep, good nutrition is key. There are studies that have linked various foods to improved sleep. Kiwi for instance has been identified as a good fruit to include in your diet. The powerful vitamins and minerals in Kiwi are known to improve sleep. Studies have also found a link between tart cherry juice and sleep benefits. People who drank two servings of tart cherry juice every day was observed to get better sleep overall, with better sleep efficiency and longer hours of sleep.
Malted milk, has also been shown to reduce sleep disruptions. Drinking a glass of malted milk before bed, you basically drink a glass of sleep producing hormones, which help you get a good night’s rest.
Fatty fish and nuts are also recommended for better sleep. A study conducted over several months found that people who ate salmon two to three times a week had better sleep overall, which resulted in better daytime activity and a healthier lifestyle. Nuts on the other hand contain magnesium and zinc, which are essential minerals that are essential for optimum bodily performance. The better your body performs, the better sleep you will get; it is that simple. Nuts also contain a good amount of melatonin, which is linked to helping with insomnia in adults. So eating some almonds before bed could be your health hack to better sleep.
Rice is also a great carbohydrate and has been placed on the top of the list of carbohydrates for better sleep. A study of people in Japan showed that people who ate rice on a regular basis have better sleep. Eating healthy food with a high glycemic index such as rice about four hours before bed helped with falling asleep. Unhealthy high glycemic index food and drinks, like sweets and sugary beverages, have been directly correlated with poor sleep. Combine rice with turkey, which has high levels of tryptophan, a sleep-promoting amino acid. This combination is perfect to ensure that you are well fed and ready for the night’s rest.
Did I Miss Anything?
If you read this word to word, you should have a rather good idea of the habits which cause bad sleep, and the nutrition plan you should follow for good sleep. You would also have a very good idea of how important sleep is to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
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How many hours of sleep do you get per day? Drop us a comment and let us know how well you sleep. We hope you remember the importance of sleep and now know how to get better sleep at night.