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Sleep Deprivation – Causes, Problems and Remedies
Are you getting enough sleep? Many people don't. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one third of Americans are not getting the sleep needed to wake up rested, refreshed and ready-to-go.
How much sleep do you need? Most experts agree the average adult needs between seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night to feel their best the next day.
Of course, the total amount of sleep required differs for each individual. Some need less and some need more, but seven to nine hours is a good ballpark figure
Restful sleep, however, is the key concept. If you go to bed at ten, toss around before dozing off, wake up during the night and lie awake for a while and then get up and six, you may be in bed for eight hours, but you’re not getting eight hours of restful sleep and that’s what counts.
A Simple Sleep Test
How can you tell if you’re getting the proper amount of sleep you personally require? Just ask yourself the following questions:
• Do I yawn all day?
• Do I drag around at work?
• Do I have trouble getting out of bed?
• Do I need an alarm to wake me up in the morning?
• Do I have trouble concentrating or remembering things?
If you answer yes to any one of these above questions, then you may be suffering
from sleep deprivation and need to do something about it ASAP. You don’t want to doze off going down the highway at 60 mph, do you?
Dangers of Sleep Deficiency
Getting enough sleep is just as important as breathing, eating and exercising. Sleep deprivation weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of colds, flu and other communicable diseases. Sleepiness dumbs a person down, creating memory lapses and poor brain activity, as well as moodiness and depression. It can also lead to weight gain, obesity, decreased libido and infertility. Getting less than seven hours of sleep is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart attack and heart failure. So, you can see how important it is to get a good night’s sleep.
Causes of Lack of Sleep
Basically, there are three main reasons people experience a lack of sleep. They are:
1 Lifestyle choices – Choosing not to get enough sleep is all too common and probably the most likely cause of sleep deprivation. Most people trying get by with less sleep turn to caffeine or amphetamines to stay awake and alert, which only causes more sleep deprivation. According to research, those who try to self-medicate with alcohol to encourage sleep often end up with increased insomnia and a greater risk of developing alcoholism.
2 Lack of time – Other people, unfortunately, just don’t have enough free time to get the amount of sleep they need. Too many people have jobs that require them to work irregular shifts or long overtime hours, making it difficult for them to establish normal sleep patterns. Others have responsibilities that keep them from getting enough sleep, such as mothers of young infants or someone caring for an ill family member.
3 Medical conditions – Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, are often the cause of a lack of sleep. Other medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and mental illness, have sleep problems as a side effect. Many women experience sleepless nights linked to hormonal changes. Certain medications have also been known to interfere with optimum sleep.
Remedies for Sleeplessness
Here are three helpful tips for getting plenty of restful sleep.
1. Create the perfect bedroom. Make your sleeping room quiet, peaceful and dark. Choose a comfortable bed, covers and nightclothes. Eliminate all distractions – TV, laptops, smart phones etc. Keep the room and your body cool – not too hot and not too cold. If necessary, use supportive devices to encourage sleep. Earplugs or a sound machine can help block loud sounds. Eye-shades and dark blinds can eliminate any unwanted light.
2. Create a calming bedtime routine. Unwind from your busy day and prepare for a restful night with a dull book or some soothing music. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol and eating before bedtime. Try taking a warm, relaxing candlelight bath a couple of hours before bedtime. As you cool down, you will start to feel sleepier.
3. Get plenty of exercise. Regular exercise early in the evening will reduce stress and help your body and mind relax. Relaxation techniques – yoga, meditation, slow breathing, biofeedback, etc. – practiced during the day or in the evening will also help you calm down in preparation for sleep.
If you’re not getting plenty of restful sleep, now is the time to do something about it. And I don’t mean taking sleeping pills. Sleep medications have serious side effects and should be avoided. The above natural techniques have no serious side effects and have been proven to work.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.
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