While you are asleep, your brain and body are repairing and growing. Getting enough sleep is critical for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but with our hectic work and family schedules, as well as our social commitments, many people aren’t getting enough of it.
NSF Sleep in America 2018 concluded that while we recognize the need of sleep, most Americans prioritize work, fitness and other responsibilities ahead of sleeping time In the United States, just one-quarter of Americans receive the seven to nine hours of sleep each night recommended, while one-sixth have used sleep medication or have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
What Is a Good Night’s Sleep?
A good night’s sleep should leave you feeling awake, attentive, and ready to face the day. If you wake up in the middle of the night, you may require a few minutes to come to terms with being awake. In general, though, those who have regular sleep patterns have an easier time falling asleep and waking up less frequently in the middle of the night.
The amount of time you spend in bed isn’t all that matters when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. The natural regularity of sleep stages can be disrupted by fragmented sleep, resulting in a less effective night’s sleep. There are times when even though you get a full eight hours of sleep each night, you still feel foggy.
You may not be getting enough sleep if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Inability to wake up or stay asleep
- Not feeling rested after a good night’s sleep
- Feeling lethargic, fatigued, or sleepy during the work day
- Inability to concentrate in job, school, or sports
- Caffeine dependence that is out of control
- Frequent awakenings at night
- Feelings of not getting a good night’s rest.
The short-term effects of sleep deprivation include memory loss, concentration difficulties, mood swings, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Car accidents and workplace injuries are more likely to happen to people who don’t get enough sleep.
Over time, poor sleep is also connected to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Breast cancer, stroke, and other medical disorders are more likely to occur among shift workers with irregular sleep patterns. Anxiety and depression are two conditions that can be exacerbated by sleep deprivation.
How Does Sleep Change Throughout the Lifespan?
As we grow older, our sleep requirements shift, and this, in turn, can be influenced by a variety of other circumstances. Our circadian rhythm, a kind of internal “body clock,” controls how much sleep we get and how awake we are. When we don’t get enough sleep, a mechanism known as sleep-wake homeostasis kicks in, leaving us exhausted.
Babies and young children, who are still growing and developing, require the most sleep, averaging 9-10 hours for older children and up to 18 hours for newborns. Adults should sleep between seven and nine hours per night, while teens need eight to ten hours.
Even the elderly need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, seniors are more likely to have light sleep, an earlier circadian rhythm, multiple overnight awakenings, and a shorter overall sleep period. Drugs or medical conditions may exacerbate these issues.
Societal norms could conflict with some individuals’ circadian cycle. A good illustration of this is the fact that teenagers are genetically predisposed to sleeping in and waking up later, which is in direct conflict with the early start times of many schools. For shift workers, it may be difficult to maintain a consistent bedtime, and their sleep may be affected as a result.
There are people who prefer to get up earlier and people who prefer to wake up later, even among healthy adults. It’s becoming more and more common knowledge that early-morning occupations can lead to persistent insomnia and other health issues for night owls. Women, according to new research, have a shorter circadian rhythm and require more sleep than males.
Restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are all sleep disorders that can disrupt one’s ability to sleep (GERD). Consult your doctor if you suspect a secondary health condition is the source of your sleep problems.
How to Wake Up Feeling Refreshed
Even without an alarm clock, you should be waking up at the right time. Your body will wake you up on its own if you get adequate sleep.
Four stages of sleep occur during the course of a night’s sleep cycle. Light sleep occurs in stages one and two as our bodies prepare for a deeper sleep. Slow-wave sleep is the third stage of sleep, during which the body is repairing and growing. We dream during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the final stage of the sleep cycle.
Time spent in REM sleep increases as the night progresses, and it normally takes 90 minutes to cycle through all four stages of sleep. We must receive enough slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in order to feel rested when we wake up in the morning.
When we wake up in stage one or stage two sleep, we feel most revitalized. Slow-wave sleep might make you feel groggy, while waking up from a vivid dream while in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can be unsettling.
Some people try to time their alarms to coincide with the conclusion of a sleep cycle by counting backwards from their intended wake-up time when calculating their bedtime. Sleep cycles can vary in length even within the same night, so interruptions or trouble falling asleep might throw the routine off.
Maintaining a regular schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, and getting a enough amount of sleep are better ways to teach your body to get up at the appropriate time. Monitor how you feel as a result of this practice to see if there are any areas in which you might need to make changes. A wearable device or smartphone app may help you track your sleep architecture so you can better plan your night.
Sleep Hygiene Tips for Better Sleep
More long-term strategies for waking up on time include following a regular schedule, following good sleep hygiene practices, and getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Monitor how you feel while waking up in the setting of this routine to see if there are any areas that need to be improved. You may be able to better plan your night’s sleep with the help of a wearable device or smartphone app.
- Create a Comfortable Bedroom Setting: You should be able to sleep better if your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. You should only use your bed for sleeping and having sex, and not for anything else. Getting a more pleasant night’s sleep may be as simple as upgrading your mattress, pillow, or bed linens.
- Maintain a Routine: One of the most effective strategies to combat insomnia is to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Try to sleep in on the weekends in an effort to make up for lost sleep, but this can be disruptive to your circadian cycle, so a brief nap in the early afternoon may be a better alternative. You should also avoid snoozing your alarm because fragmented sleep is less restorative than a full night’s sleep.
- It’s recommended that you switch off your phone an hour before you go to sleep and silence all of your notifications. If you awaken in the middle of the night, use a nightlight instead of turning on the overhead light.
- Sunlight can help you get back in sync with your body’s natural circadian cycle. Slow-wave sleep, which lasts longer and is better quality, is enhanced as a side effect.
- Exercising and eating healthfully can really aid in your ability to sleep better at night, as long as you don’t work out too late in the day. Consume less alcohol and caffeine as these stimulants can interfere with your sleep, especially if you suffer from heartburn.
- Relieve tension by meditating, doing yoga or any other form of relaxation. Getting ready for bed can be made easier for many people by following a relaxing bedtime ritual. Reading a book, having a bath, brushing your teeth, and putting on pajamas are all examples of this. For more than 15 minutes of twitching, get out of bed and engage in a more calming activity before trying to go back to sleep.
- The usage of sleep aids such as melatonin, sleeping tablets, CBD oil, and others should only be considered as a last resort, as they may cause negative effects.
Taking sleep medicines safely
Your doctor may recommend hypnotic sleep drugs if lifestyle adjustments have failed to improve your sleep. Drugs like these can help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer, but they can also cause adverse effects, such as insomnia. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using these medications:
- Do not take any additional medications without first consulting your physician. Medication used to aid sleep can interact with other drugs.
- In order to get the best results, use the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.
- Pay close attention to what your doctor says. Dosage and timing are critical while using this medication (which is typically just before bed).
- Diarrhea, excessive drowsiness, and dizziness are all signs that you should see a doctor immediately.
- Take a sleep aid and follow the tips in this article to help you get a better night’s sleep.
- Do not drive or drink alcohol while on sleep aids.
- A drowsy state may cause you to stumble when you get out of bed and take your prescription. Ensure that the walk to your bathroom is clear of impediments or loose rugs so that you don’t fall when you get out of bed to urinate.
How much sleep do I need?
Even while every person’s sleep requirements are unique, most sleep experts agree that adults should aim for seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to allow their bodies and minds to recover. Adults require more sleep than do newborns and young toddlers.
What can I do to sleep well?
Your habits have an impact:
- Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day if at all possible.
- Prior to going to bed, avoid drinking anything liquid at all costs.
- Before you go to sleep, take a warm shower or bath and read a book or listen to some relaxing music.
- You can use breathing exercises or meditation to help you relax and let go of the stresses of the day. See below for relaxation and meditation resources.
What can I do to make my bedroom a better place to sleep?
Cut down on the use of bright lights and loud music. Take a moment to think about the quality of your bedding. Adjust your thermostat and windows for a comfortable room temperature.
Reduce the amount of light pollution and noise pollution. Take a moment to think about the comfort of your bedding. Adjust your thermostat and open your windows to maintain a pleasant temperature in your home.
Would a nightcap help me fall asleep?
Alcohol should be avoided at least one hour before going to bed. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly for a while.
Drinking too much alcohol might cause a decrease in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Dreaming is an aspect of our sleep cycle that is meant to be therapeutic. If you do this, you may wake up the next day feeling groggy and unable to focus.
What about caffeine?
Avoid caffeinated beverages for several hours before going to sleep. Caffeine may interfere with the body’s ability to release a sleep-inducing hormone after 2 p.m., according to some experts.
What about exercise?
Maintaining good health requires at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, according to experts. Before going to bed, it’s best to avoid any exercise within a few hours of your bedtime, as it can keep you awake.
There are some people who have difficulty sleeping after exercising because of the increase in body temperature and heart rate.
What should I do if I can’t fall asleep?
Adjust your sleeping position to see whether it improves your quality of sleep. Other methods of relaxing, such as meditation or deep breathing, may also be beneficial. It’s possible that counting sheep can be helpful for certain people. Don’t stay awake in bed if you can’t fall asleep after 15 to 30 minutes. Until you’re drowsy, go into another dimly lit room and read a book or listen to music.
Should I take sleeping pills or a sleep aid?
When it comes to treating insomnia, over-the-counter medications can be both useful and safe in some situations. Doctors, on the other hand, caution against relying on them for long periods of time. Consult with your doctor before using any new medication. The effectiveness of several “natural” sleep aids has not been extensively evaluated.
How can I manage my sleep if I work a night shift?
As far as possible, keep the noise in your bedroom to a minimum and ensure that it may be made as dark as you like. Put away your phone. Let your friends and neighbors know that you need some privacy when you’re trying to get some shut-eye. To ensure a restful night’s sleep, arrange for child care if required, and minimize any other distractions that can keep you awake.
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