When you’re on a demanding schedule and trying to accomplish more in your day, sleep is usually the first sacrifice. Cutting back on sleep to get more work done may seem like a responsible decision, and a few cups of coffee can usually make you feel prepared to take on the new day. But in reality, even minor sleep loss can be devastating to your mental and physical health. Studies have shown that sleep deficiency has strong associations with major health risks like cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer, not to mention your general emotional balance, physical well-being and productivity. It’s been shown that good sleep is actually as important to your health as nutrition and exercise.
In today’s fast-paced environment, more and more people are giving up a full night’s sleep in order to stay competitive. But there are many other reasons why you might not be getting adequate rest, and you may not even be aware that there’s an issue at all. Surveys indicate that sleep deficiency is both an increasingly experienced and increasingly underappreciated determinant of health. It’s of utmost importance to public health to identify the reasons for sleep deficiency and develop countermeasures that will improve the sleep of people who are suffering from the condition - whether knowingly or unknowingly.
This white paper outlines the most common reasons for sleep deprival, the range of impacts it can have on your life, and some potential solutions for people looking to address the problem.
Are You Getting Enough Rest? Many people claim that they can get by on five or six hours of sleep, but “getting by” is not the same as getting the amount of sleep your body and mind require to perform well. Sleep researchers have discovered a gene that allows humans to operate well on a mere six hours a night, but this gene occurs in only 3% of the population. Anyone else operating on this little sleep may not feel tired during the day, but it will impact your capacity to think clearly and react swiftly, and someone who is regularly sleeping only six hours a night is putting themselves at a serious disadvantage.
Not sure if you’re getting enough sleep? There’s a couple of tell-tale signs. If you need an alarm clock, depend on the few extra minutes you get after hitting the snooze button, and still have a hard time getting out of bed, you’re probably not well-rested. If you get drowsy or sluggish during the day, that’s another sign. If you fall asleep quickly when you finally do allow yourself to relax, your body is sending you a loud and clear message. It’s a big risk to run: the effects of chronic sleep deprivation include reduced immunity to disease, weight gain, indecisiveness, an increased risk of accidents, memory problems, stress, and reduced creativity. No amount of coffee, health food or exercise can make up for lost sleep, and trying to make up for it on the weekend is a surprisingly ineffective countermeasure. Regularly sleeping between 7.5 and 9 hours per night is the only answer.
What’s Keeping Us Up At Night? Many people are simply depriving themselves of sleep in order to get more done, but others are suffering from sleep deprivation for other reasons. Remember, the number of hours you sleep is not the only factor in play. Any disruption or obstacle to your body’s natural rhythms and sleep cycles can lead to chronic fatigue. Deep sleep is the time when your body has the opportunity to repair muscles and tissues and stimulate physical and mental health and development. Without enough deep sleep, you’re denying your body the opportunity to build up energy for the day ahead and strengthen itself to protect you from illness and disease. Some of the reasons for insufficient deep sleep include:
1.) Exposure to light at night. Light from electronic screens is particularly disruptive, as a bright light directed at your face will signal to the brain that it’s time to be awake.
2.) Being woken by outside noise or disruptions. Caring for a baby or living with a roommate can cause you to wake up in the night, breaking up your sleep cycles.
3.) Working on an irregular schedule. Getting a good rest during the day can be near impossible due to exterior light and noise.
How To Get Back on Track Once you start sleeping on a regular schedule and without external disruptions, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your body will take over and get itself back on a healthy, natural sleep schedule. The benefits will start to show themselves quickly - you’ll feel more alert, you’ll be more productive, and you’ll no longer have to rely on a coffee or an energy drink to get you through the afternoon. If you’re ready to make a change and improve the quality of your sleep, start by giving yourself the gift of eight hours of sleep. Some doctors recommend keeping a sleep diary so people can record the amount of sleep they’ve gotten and how they feel during the following day. Keeping track of your schedule can help you get to know your body and recognize your natural patterns. If you’ve been depriving yourself of sleep for a long time, you may want to consider being extra lenient so your body pay off your sleep debt - if you can manage it, try going to bed at the same time every night for two weeks, and let yourself wake up naturally, without an alarm clock. Remember - quality is as important as quality. If you’re giving yourself enough time for sleep and not noticing the benefits, try the following measures:
1.) Make sure your sleeping space is cool, dark and quiet.
2.) Stick to a regular sleeping schedule, even on the weekends.
3.) Avoid screens within two hours of going to sleep.
4.) Avoid caffeine late in the day.
5.) Manage stress and anxiety by journaling, meditating or exercising.
Sleep isn’t just a time when you’re “off”. In truth, your body and brain are more active than ever, consolidating and strengthening what you’ve learned throughout the day, and performing essential maintenance and repair to keep you in good physical condition. Denying yourself adequate, high quality sleep is denying yourself the ability to be your best self.
For information about Privacy Pop and how they can be instrumental in your quest for a good night’s sleep, visit www.privacypop.com.