Are You Getting Enough ZZZ’s???
In a world where more and more is expected of us, something has to give. Usually it’s sleep, and most of us truly don’t get enough. We yawn at work. We might grab another energy drink or coffee. We may even doze off on the couch after dinner.
According to Harvard Medical School, a lack of sufficient quality sleep “can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.”
Multiple studies have confirmed the same results: those who sleep poorly – whether they wake during the night or just don’t sleep enough hours – are at greater risk for a number of diseases and health problems.
How Much Sleep is Enough? According to the Mayo Clinic:
|Age group||Recommended amount of sleep|
|Infants||14 to 15 hours|
|Toddlers||12 to 14 hours|
|School-age children||10 to 11 hours|
|Adults||7 to 9 hours|
We may worry about drinking and driving, but sleep deprivation can be worse, even deadly. There is no way to measure one’s rest-quotient, as there is for blood-alcohol content. The effects can be deadly, as in the case of drowsy driving fatalities.
Experts warn about reduced perception and judgment, errors and accidents. What is the average person to do?
It sounds so simple. Go to bed. Get some extra rest. Not easy when you toss and turn it he middle of the night, thinking of all that needs to be done in the morning.
I believe some people are actually born to be early risers while others are night owls. That’s great if it works. What if your work schedule doesn’t match your sleep schedule?
First, take a look at what you do in the evening. Does it get your brain thinking or slowing down? If you have to finish something to take to work or school in the morning, it may be best to get it done and in your car or tote bag the night before. Grab and go in the morning, sound sleep at night.
Do you sleep with lights on? Even a dim nightlight may interfere with your body’s ability to produce rhodopsin, the chemical that lets your eyes “see” in the dark. It’s a protein that scientists are just beginning to understand, but they know it is necessary for your body to function. Try sleeping with an eye mask to eliminate any ambient light from reaching your eyes.
Alcohol is certainly a factor. It may help some relax and at first seem to promote sleep. On the contrary, the sugars in alcohol can leave you wide-awake in the middle of the night.
Caffeine is another culprit known for giving hours of wakeful bliss that become wired hours of nighttime wakefulness.
So, if you have trouble sleeping, start a routine, just like a child. Nothing scary or intense on hour or so before bedtime. No spicy foods or caffeine or alcohol after dinner or suppertime. Finish what needs to be done and put it away. Sometimes reading a book or taking a warm bath will help ease you into restfulness.
Lavender, whether a room spray, a body lotion or in a pillow is often used to promote a restful sleep.
When you have enough sleep, it is said you will awaken naturally. That means sometime when the sun arises, not in the middle of the night. If none of these ideas help and you find yourself generally tired and the first to come down with colds and ailments, talk to your doctor or alternative care health provider.
There are solutions. You need a good night’s rest most every night to be at your best most every day. That and a good walk after you’ve flossed your teeth and had a big glass of water.
Stay healthy. See you next week.