Good quality sleep, and a sufficient amount of it, is necessary for optimized health. It can affect weight, mood, and hormone levels; a dearth of it has been tied to a variety of complications. Sleep is nourishing and restorative; it is life’s fuel. Sleep deprivation also deprives insomnia sufferers of a basic and necessary type of sustenance. Understanding the problem, and undertaking some simple steps, can lead to better sleep and a healthier life.
A Pandemic Problem
According to NPR, more than 60 million Americans deal with the struggle of getting a good night’s sleep. The Young Independents cites The Sleep Council 2013 report that found 70% experience fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night, while the average adult requires 7-9 hours, and a third of the study only managed 5 or 6 hours. The problem is widespread and has a lasting, devastating effect on health, lifestyle, daily activities, and safety.
Contributions to Insomnia
The Huffington Post lists the underlying cause of sleep loss and disturbance as anything from anxiety and stress to depression, pain, medical conditions, prescription medications, nicotine, caffeine, supplements, or poor sleeping habits. It can be a surprise to find that the habits surrounding sleeping and leading up to bedtime might be either causing or worsening insomnia.
Complications of Insomnia
Insomnia can result in many problems. It is tied to greater risks of illnesses, infections, diseases, and accidents. In fact, driving while sleepy has been found comparable to driving with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level, which is considered the legal limit for intoxication in several states. Poor sleep can be a contribution to heart disease, which in turn may interrupt sleep. It has also been tied to stroke and high blood pressure. Sleep debt or decreasing sleep quality can impact appetite controls and result in overeating. Sleep loss is also linked to an increased possibility of diabetes, as it decreases insulin sensitivity.
Setting the Slumber Scene
The Mayo Clinic recommends creating a restful environment to ensure sound sleeping. This tends to mean dark, quiet, cool, and well-ventilated. Light exposure can cause difficulties in achieving and maintaining sleep. Blackout curtains or blinds, additional window dressings, and eye masks can help if light is unavoidable. A tidy room without technology is more conducive to slumber. Even alarm clocks with digital displays can be a disturbance. When decorating, remember to use calming colors in soft and muted tones.
A Bed that’s Just Right
The foundation of a solid night’s sleep is, beyond doubt, a comfortable bed. The right mattress makes a huge impact. Selections such as offered here can help find just the right sleeping surface for any individual. Put quality above price while remaining in the potential budget. The correct support is crucial. Like Goldilocks, find the bed that is not too soft or too hard, but is just right. It needs to support the spine, keeping the alignment correct, while offering conformation to your body’s contours. A new mattress should be considered every seven years according to the Sleep Council.
Diet and exercise contribute to successful sleep. Avoid heavy meals within two to three hours of bedtime. Exercise during the day, but again, not within two to three hours of the time to sleep, as it energizes and can make sleeping difficult. If you must nap to help mitigate sleep loss, minimize it, taking only twenty to ninety minutes in the early afternoon. If sleepiness strikes just after dinner, take up a mildly energizing activity such as phoning a friend or washing the dishes.
Bedtime is time to relax and wind down. Consider a warm bath or shower just before bed to stimulate the body’s reflex for sleeping when the body temperature lowers. Avoid digital screens that give off blue light, or use amber-tinted glasses to block the disrupting blue rays. Psychology Today reminds that if sleep fails to come, avoid becoming annoyed or anxious. If you attempt forcing yourself to sleep, you can fall into a cycle of aggravation. If sleep doesn’t come after twenty minutes, get up for half an hour and then try again. Following these steps, and understanding the scope and causes of the problem, can lead to a solid night’s rest.