Inadequate sleep can leave one with more than dark circles under their eyes. Approximately 25% of the adult population is affected by sleep disorders. Sleep is an integral part of one’s day and if not optimal, has a serious effect on our overall health and longevity. Short term, multiple studies have demonstrated an association between sleep deprivation and the increased incidence of poor performance at work, higher levels of stress, an increase in accidents both at home and work, and a decrease in mental acuity. Long term, sleep disorders lead to higher incidences of hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, depression, a decrease in the overall quality of life, and a decrease in life expectancy.
How much sleep is enough?
Most studies indicate that children require 9-10 hours as do adolescents. Adults require 8 hours or more sleep per night. The easiest test is whether you require an alarm clock to get up in the morning. Rate your overall feeling upon rising and ask yourself do you feel fresh and fully rested? Do you require a nap mid-afternoon? If you need a nap, or feel less than 50% fully rested, then you may need more sleep or better quality sleep.
Causes of sleep deprivation:
- Personal habits
- Watching TV late at night
- Working on the computer late at night
- Late night socializing
- Shift work that leads to poor sleep patterns
- Deadlines at work that cause you to work late at night
- Excessive worrying prior to bedtime
- Alcohol consumption prior to bedtime
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Caffeine or nicotine usage several hours prior to rest
- Simply get in the habit of retiring for the night at a specific time: stick to that allotted time so that you can settle down for the night
- Get rid of all external stimuli (all work, anything electronic) and engage in quiet time such as easy reading for 30-45 minutes prior to bedtime
- Turn off the television, other bright lights, computers and lit up electronics since it interferes with your circadian rhythm
- Restrict caffeine , nicotine and alcohol a few hours before going to bed.
- Avoid late night socializing most nights of the week.
- Improve your sleep environment adjust the temperature, use black out shades and sound proof the area as best possible. Remove TVs, computers and radios.
- Seek medical attention for sleep disorders that are not remedied by the above suggestions. You may have a serious disorder known as sleep apnea.
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