Are you a person who spends the night tending to a young child, working two jobs, living at the grocery store and cleaning the house? Or maybe you’re working late nights? If you identify with any of these situations, then you probably don’t get adequate sleep. But who needs sleep anyway? The answer is everyone. Lack of sleep is linked to accidents — automobile and on-the-job— making it a serious problem and concern for our society.
Fatigue diminishes your alertness and concentration. Our society operates on a 24-hour cycle, with multiple responsibilities at work and at home. When life gets hectic, sleep is usually the first thing that goes. This leads to decreased productivity, increased errors in judgment, and accidents, according to Dr. Kiley.
So how many hours per night should you sleep? According to NIH, you should average 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night. If you get less than 6 hours of sleep per night regularly, your health could be at risk. As many as 40 million Americans are afflicted with more than 70 types of sleep-related problems. Poor sleep can stem from “bad” habits such as napping too long or too late in the day, or doing shift work, which applies to nearly one quarter of the population, according to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
Sleep is extremely important for your physical and mental health. Inadequate sleep leads to under performance at work and home. Adequate sleep will help you give 100% to all you do and you’ll feel better about yourself. Listed below are suggestions and remedies if you have trouble sleeping. But most importantly, remember to set aside time for yourself to relax, because after all, it is your life!
Sleep better, live better:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Exercise regularly, but not too close to your bedtime.
- It’s best to finish exercising at least four hours before you go to bed. Working out raises your body’s temperature, which can prevent or delay sleep.
- Clear your mind of the day’s stress.
- Take a few minutes to talk about the day with a friend or family member. Or, try making lists to help clear your mind of the day’s stress. That way, when you get into bed, you can focus on dozing, not doing.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime.
- Besides making it difficult to get to sleep, eating in the late evening raises the risk for heartburn, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
- Limit naps.
- A 15- to 20-minute nap in the early afternoon can give you an energy boost, but a longer nap can throw off your sleeping schedule.
- Avoid drinking substances that disturb sleep — caffeine is No. 1, alcohol is No. 2.
- Consuming foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea or cola can interfere with nighttime sleep.
- Alcoholic beverages can make you fall asleep faster, but they cause early morning awakenings and fitful sleep.
- Spend some time outdoors during daylight hours.
- Sunlight can help set your biological clock.
- Ask your doctor if any of your medications could be disturbing your sleep.