Did you know that a regular sleep deficiency could increase your risk of developing heart disease? When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you might wake up with a headache or with a bad case of brain fog. Those might be temporary conditions, but a consistent shortage of sleep can lead to something way more serious.
A consistent sleep shortage has been linked to high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. This make it a serious medical condition that needs to be addressed.
People are working more and sleeping less. More and more people look at sleep as a luxury – something that they should cut back on in order to do more work or “important tasks.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
How Much Sleep is Enough
The amount of sleep you need changes based on your age. Not only is the amount of sleep important, but the quality of sleep is equally important.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an adult age 18-60 needs at least 7 hours of sleep a night. A teenager needs 8-10 hours per night. Most adults and teens are not getting this much sleep on a consistent basis.
In addition, some people might think they are sleeping enough hours, but the quality of their sleep is not adequate. Some people have trouble staying asleep and some might have serious issues such as sleep apnea.
Three Different Sleep Problems
Sleep problems are not all the same. Some people have difficulty falling asleep. They toss and turn and can take several hours before they are finally in a deep sleep state.
Others fall asleep quickly but then experience unrest during the night. Some people, especially older men and women, find that they wake up during the night and need to use the bathroom. This can happen multiple times during the night and this greatly reduces the overall quality of sleep.
Others have serious sleep disorders which might have them snoring or gasping for air. One sleep disorder in particular, sleep apnea, can have serious medical complications and should be evaluated by a doctor.
So, whether you have difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or have restless sleep, you should work with your physician to evaluate your condition and put together a plan to restore healthy, adequate sleep.
Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep Naturally
If you want to improve your sleep naturally, there are things you can do which will greatly improve your likelihood of getting enough sleep and getting restoring sleep.
- Create and stick to a firm sleep schedule. Get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each night. Your body loves regular schedules and this one step can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep.
- Develop a sleep routine. Don’t think you can be doing intense exercise or debating an intense work issue and then pop into bed and fall asleep. If your adrenaline is high from an intense physical, mental, or emotional challenge, you will not be in a good condition for falling asleep.
- You need a sleep routine that has a “cool down” period before jumping into bed. The “cool down” might include sipping a cup of herbal tea, having a relaxing conversion with a spouse, turning off the TV and/or computer and spending a little time reading a relaxing book. The relaxing part is important! Don’t pick up a thriller at this point.
- A few hours before your bed time, consider avoiding blue light like the bright light on your computer screen. This blue light hits your eyes and tells your mind that it is bright daylight outside and you should be wide awake. Consider using apps that gradually reduce the blue light on your computer or tablet. You can also buy an inexpensive pair of “blue blocker” glasses that will filter the blue light but still allow you to work on your computer or tablet.
- Keep the TV out of the bedroom. It is important to train your mind and body that it is time to go to sleep. When you go into the bedroom, you want your mind to be giving your body the clue that it is time to go to sleep. Watching TV in the bedroom destroys that clue and keeps your mind super active and alert. This is not what you want.
- Keep your bedroom cool. It has been shown that you will sleep better in a cool room,
- Develop a relaxation ritual. You can choose light reading, meditation, or even a deep breathing session. Relaxing your mind and body is very supportive of good sleep.
- Sleep in a totally dark room. Any light can disrupt the depth of your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine after noon. There are a few lucky people that aren’t affected by caffeine but chances are good that you are. Try the experiment of avoiding all caffeine after lunchtime and see whether it makes a difference. Some people find they can fall asleep just fine after drinking caffeine but they end up waking in the middle of the night. This can destroy the overall quality of sleep.
- Some people may consider herbal remedies. Many people find that a small dose of valerian, magnesium, or melatonin can help them relax and sleep better.
If you are concerned about your sleep, talk to your physician. You might need a sleep study if you are concerned about sleep apnea or any other serious medical condition.
But everyone can safely put the “sleep hygiene” steps into place. For many this will be enough to improve your sleep time and quality.