It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep impacts your physical and mental health. Many recent studies have all concluded that there are links between insufficient sleep and heart disease, obesity, and even diabetes. These serious health risks come into effect if sleep loss occurs over the span of a lifetime.
If you just have one night of restful sleep, you feel the positive effects almost right away. There is a boost in terms of energy. You’re in a better mood and can think much more clearly. So, if you believe you’re ready to reap these benefits, it’s important to first determine if you’re getting enough sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation offers a range of articles describing all of these benefits and how to improve your current sleep cycle. They also explain facts about sleep disorders and how to combat them. The experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend individuals get a certain number of hours of sleep each and every night. The number is based on your age:
- Newborns aged 0-3 months: 14-17 hours
- Infants aged 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
- Toddlers aged 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers aged 3-5: 10-13 hours
- Children aged 6-13: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers aged 14-17: 8-10 hours
- Young adults aged 18-25: 7-9 hours
- Adults aged 26-64: 7-9 hours
- Seniors aged 65+: 7-8 hours
Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
For those not following this guide on a regular basis, you will start feeling the symptoms in your daily life. Here are some of the more obvious signs of not getting enough sleep:
- If you tend to be forgetful, this is a common sign of sleep deprivation. In adults, a lack of sleep means that memories stay in the hippocampus region of the brain and are not able to reach the prefrontal cortex, which accounts for memory.
- If you tend to be hungrier than normal. A decrease in sleep causes an imbalance of our hormones, including Leptin and Ghrelin. These hormones tell our bodies when to stop eating because we’re full.
- If you read the same sentences over and over. This is due to a lack of concentration and ability to stay focused. This sign causes poor performance in the workplace because it takes longer to complete tasks.
- If you tend to get angry or agitated. When normal, everyday conversations become an annoyance, your body is trying to tell you that you’re tired. People who don’t get enough rest do not handle conflict well.
- If you’re “zoning out” or “spacing out.” This is especially true if it occurs during the daytime. This means you’re in “autopilot” mode and not concentrating on daily activities.
- If you fall asleep too quickly. This is associated with narcolepsy, a disorder that causes you to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly. If you are showing symptoms of narcolepsy, it’s important to see your local healthcare provider right away. This is because narcolepsy can cause some potentially dangerous scenarios, such as falling asleep while driving.
Tips For Sleeping Well
Your body has a natural internal clock that gets tired when you don’t get enough rest. It might be difficult to realize when you’re tossing and turning at 2 AM, but you have much control over how you sleep. Once you’ve determined the number of hours needed each night, there are things you can do to make the experience better for yourself. Making simple changes to your daily routine has a profound impact on your sleeping habits. If you follow some of the following advice, you may find that you can’t wait to go to bed tonight!
- If your schedule allows, try to get to sleep at the same time every single night. For example, set an alarm on your clock for 10 PM and try to stick to that time as closely as you can.
- Feel free to take naps when needed, but don’t make them too long. By limiting them to about 20 minutes, you ensure that you’re not too rested, thus potentially ruining your nighttime sleep.
- In the morning, if you are still feeling drowsy after waking up, expose yourself to natural sunlight for a few minutes or drink a glass of cold water. This will help you ease the transition a little better.
- Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed. This includes smartphones, computers, or TV screens. This is because the blue light it emits disrupts sleep. However, this can be amended by downloading a smartphone app to minimize this type of blue light. If you need a stimulating activity before bedtime, try listening to music or an audiobook instead of a movie.
- Once you head off to bed for the night, the room should be absolutely dark. Draw the curtains, or at least make sure the light from the window is blocked. Also, remember to cover up the light from your electronics. If this is not possible, use a comfortable sleep mask instead.
- During the day, limit your caffeine and nicotine intake. This is important because caffeine causes sleep issues even 10 hours later! If you absolutely must have coffee, drink it in the morning, especially before noon.
- Having a big meal right before bed, as well as eating spicy and acidic food, can cause indigestion, which is another interrupter of the sleep process. But if you want to have a snack, have something healthy, such as fruit. Drinking too many liquids also results in frequent bathroom trips, so try to limit your drinks before bed.
- If the stress of daily life affects your sleep, many find that meditation and deep breathing is an effective means of relaxation. This allows you to put aside your busy schedule and refresh your brain for the next day. Simply close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths for a few moments.
- If you take the time to make your bedroom comfortable, this is an unexpected and pleasant way to have a great night’s sleep. Try a different mattress setting for firmness and give yourself more support. Cozy pillows and blankets are also little additions that make a big difference. Making the experience feel more “luxurious” is another excellent way to ensure you go to bed the same time every night as well. Consider it a long-term gift to yourself, as taking care of your health should always be a top priority!