When it comes to having a high quality of life, good sleep is absolutely necessary. After all, you can’t be your best when you spend all day feeling tired from a night of tossing and turning or just plain old not sleeping at all.
How much sleep do you need?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amount of sleep you need is dependent on your age. Here are their recommendations:
- Newborn to 2 month olds – 12-18 hours
- 3 to 11 month olds – 14-15 hours
- 1-3 year olds – 12-14 hours
- 3-5 year olds – 11-13 hours
- 5-10 year olds – 10-11 hours
- 10-17 year olds – 8 ½ -9 ¼ hours
- Adults – 7-9 hours
Well, how do you stack up? If you’re not meeting this guideline, what could be the issue?
Common sleep issues
There are lots of different kinds of problems that can keep people from getting enough shut-eye to feel well and rested in the morning. They include:
- Insomnia – This is when you can’t get to sleep or can’t stay asleep. Sometimes the causes are related to medications, feeling depressed or abuse of certain substances. Other times, the cause could be some other sleep disorder, like the ones listed below.
- Restless Leg Syndrome – This is when your legs ache and the only way you can get relief is to move them. Because you can’t sit still long enough to doze off, you often find yourself up and moving around when you should be sleeping.
- Narcolepsy – This sleep condition is characterized by someone who falls asleep at odd times not normally associated with sleep. For example, someone with narcolepsy may fall asleep during the course of a meal or even when just walking down the street.
- Sleep apnea – Someone who has sleep apnea periodically stops breathing during the course of sleep. Obviously, as this presents some major health concerns that may be life threatening, this is one of the most serious conditions related to sleep and requires medical intervention.
So, what happens if you suffer from one of these conditions and aren’t getting enough shut-eye?
The effects of not enough sleep
A lot of people think of sleep as a luxury. It’s more of something that you should have than something you need to have. However, that isn’t exactly the case. If you don’t make it a habit to get the sleep your body needs to rejuvenate and heal itself, you may be in for some serious health conditions.
Here are just a few:
- Cardiovascular disease
In addition, when you’re not well rested, your performance is inhibited. In fact, one particular study found that driving after a night of limited sleep was similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. That’s scary!
When you don’t get regular good sleep, you also will likely become frustrated easier, be less able to deal with stress, have a reduced ability to focus and show less patience. All of these will not only affect how good you feel, but they’ll also affect your relationships with those around you.
What can you do to help yourself get a good, more restful night of sleep then?
How to fix the problem and get a good night’s sleep:
When it comes to an inability to sleep, there are lots of different remedies available. First and foremost, if you try some of these and they don’t work or if you believe that there may be an underlying medical condition leading to your sleepless nights, you’re going to want to make a doctor’s visit.
That being said, here are some common fixes that are widely used by others who have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis:
- Keep consistent sleep patterns. Go to bed around the same time every night. Get up around the same time every morning. Get your body to recognize when it should be awake and when it should be asleep.
- End your night with a nice, warm bath. Relax your body after a long day and let it know that it’s time to let go of the stress and strain. Help it realize that it will soon be getting a night of peaceful slumber.
- Limit your time in front of the computer or playing video games before bed. When you engage your mind as you do with these types of electronics, it has a hard time turning off and knowing that it’s time to relax.
- Reduce your level of caffeine in the afternoon hours. You may be sensitive to this particular stimulant for many hours after consuming it. So, the end result is that your mind is still going strong when your body wants nothing more than to sleep.
- Pay attention to your consumption of alcohol. Alcohol is actually a stimulant, so if you have too much of it, while it may initially make you sleep (or pass out), it won’t help you stay asleep or get quality sleep for that matter.
- Keep your bedroom as dark as it can be. Buy window covers that are designed to darken the room. Turn alarm clocks faces away from the bed and keep night lights in the hall, far away from the bedroom door. Even a tiny bit of light is enough to throw your body clock off.
- Buy a comfortable bed. If your bed hurts your back or makes your body ache, of course you aren’t going to sleep well. Yes, they can be kind of pricey, but the cost is so worth the investment in your health and wellness.
- If you exercise (which hopefully you do since it’s so good for you), make sure your workout is complete at least three hours before you decide to go to sleep. Give your body time to cool down and slow down before it has to fall off to sleep.
- Don’t eat a lot right before bed. If you’re trying to sleep while your body is trying to digest a ton of food, it isn’t going to work well. And, you might even complicate your sleep issue with other digestive issues, such as heart burn or stomach cramps.
- Some people rely on sleep medications and, while they can be helpful at times, such as when you’re suffering from jet lag, they shouldn’t be relied on for good sleep every night. They can be addictive and then your body relies on them to sleep as opposed to learning to sleep on its own.
- Melatonin supplements can be used to also aid in sleep. Although they are taken orally, they differ from sleep medications in the fact that they don’t put your body to sleep, they just raise your normal melatonin levels so that your body recognizes that it’s time to get some shut-eye.
If you try to improve your sleep and aren’t getting good results, try keeping a sleep diary. It may open your eyes to some key issues that are preventing you from getting or staying asleep. Or, if you end up seeing a specialist, it may also provide that health expert just what they need to make suitable recommendations for your condition.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a necessity. Much like the air you breathe and the water you drink. Treat sleeping with the dignity and respect it deserves. By doing so, you’ll feel better and be more able to handle everything life throws your way. That’s a great reason to make it a priority in and of itself.
Share your strategies for getting a good night’s sleep in the comment section below!