Body

Just Sleep

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Sleep, we need it, we CRAVE it- but so many of us are not getting enough.
If we all need it and want it so bad, why can’t we just sleep? Seems simple enough. We are tired, we lie down, you would think our bodies would just shut down.

But we aren’t.

Why?


Lack of sleep can be caused by many things. Such as stress, medications, medical conditions, too much caffeine- the list goes on.

But what it all has in common- no sleep SUCKS– plain and simple.

In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.

Lack of sleep takes its toll on us.

Sleep deprivation can make us:

  • Fatigued
  • Irritable
  • Experience mood changes
  • Have difficulty focusing and remembering

Not only that but it can also cause some serious potential health problems such as:

  • Heart issues
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Lowered immune system
  • Overall increased risk of health complications

The CDC has a guideline on how much sleep we need based on our age:

Hours Of Sleep NeededHours Of Sleep Needed
4-12 months12-16 (including naps)
1-2 years11-14 (including naps)
3- 5 years10-13 (including naps)
6-129- 12
13- 188-10
18-607 or more

So, we know what lack of sleep can do to our bodies and how much sleep is recommended for us-but do we know WHY we are not sleeping?

As mentioned, lack of sleep can be caused by many factors. Common everyday factors can include stress, maybe a new baby, poor sleeping environments, job shift work, pain, caffeine intake etc.

But there are also some health conditions that can contribute to lack of sleep such as certain medications, mood swings, sleep apnea and other health ailments that may cause discomfort.

The list seems to be extensive of why we aren’t sleeping. But what’s the common denominator that all of these things have- YOU! What can we do to take back control of our sleep? What can we do to just put down our head- and sleep better?

Our daily routine impacts our sleep. Whether we realize it or not.. Just some everyday lifestyle changes can go a long way. 

If your lack of sleep is very severe- you may want to seek doctor’s advice as well in case there is a more medical approach they wish to take for you- but there are also some natural ways to improve sleep that almost anyone can try!

Here are some natural ways that can help improve your sleep:


Limit background noise: Try not to sleep with the TV on or radio. If you feel the need to have noise- a white noise machine may help. Soothing sounds such as waves or nature noises have shown to help people fall asleep better. Limiting other background noise such as traffic or neighborhood sounds can also help. If you find your environment too nosey- ear plugs are a great option.

Limit bed use to just sleep and intimacy:  We tend to want to crawl into bed to watch a movie- but by doing so- it can actually disrupt our sleep. By not working, watching TV, or using a phone and/or computer in bed, our brains will associate the bedroom with just sleep and intimacy- which allows us to wind down easier at nighttime.

Stick to a proper sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time will help keep your body in a proper schedule. Doing so will assist in setting your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Select a bed time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn all night unable to sleep because you do not feel tired. If you’re getting enough sleep, your body should naturally awaken.

Fight off napping: We all love naps, and many of us are tempted to rest our eyes- especially after dinner. But doing so can disrupt how tired we feel at bed. If you do feel the need to nap- try doing so for only 20 minutes. 

If you are sensitive to light-darken your room as much as possible: Many people find it difficult to sleep when there is any light in the room. If your room has too much natural light and it disrupts your sleep- try room darkening curtains or blinds. Also consider keeping the lights off or as dim as possible if you have to get up in the night. Be as safe as you can moving around in the dark- but keeping it dark when moving will make it easier for you to fall back to sleep.

Avoid nicotine and caffeine, especially after 8pm: It’s no secret that nicotine is bad for us- but it can also disrupt our sleep as it works as a stimulant. As for caffeine, you can still have your cup of joe in the morning but taking it too far into the day can cause you to have sleep problems.

Avoid big meals at night or late night snacking:  Heavy meals and foods can cause us to feel too full to sleep and make us uncomfortable. Also avoid spicy foods late in the day or before bed- as they can cause heartburn as well during the nighttime.

Be active during the day: Exercising during the day will help you feel more tired at night from exerting yourself. Being physically active requires you to expend energy, and helps you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day.

Those are just a few ways you can help increase your overall sleep.

As you see- everyday lifestyle adjustments can help you greatly.
Try them and see how you can benefit from them and have a better night’s sleep!

Sleep tight!


Resources:

http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/8-ways-to-improve-sleep-quality-as-you-age/art-20270179

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