Who gets a good night’s sleep anyway? When that new baby comes home, mommies (and daddies too) may as well forget about getting adequate sleep for many many years to come. Children and teens never want to go to bed early but still have to get up early for school. Getting to work on time but still having a social life means giving up some of those well needed ‘sleep-in’ hours. Sometimes even when we have the opportunity to sleep enough we can’t fall asleep and keep tossing and turning all night because of stress, financial challenges and relationship problems.
Have you ever wondered what all that sleep deprivation does to our health and happiness?
• In order to function at our optimal place of mental/emotional efficiency, we will need to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. For most of us, that seems like an impossible dream!
• Preliminary studies suggest that the emotional centers of the brain connected to depression and negative emotion go haywire when we are deprived of adequate sleep.
• Sleep deprivation increases our risk for heart attacks and strokes, Type II diabetes, cancer, and shortened lifespan.
• After about 18 hours without sleep, our brain activity is similar to someone who is intoxicated.
• Sleep deprivation is associated with motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.
• Sleeping on the weekend does not undo the damage of the preceding week. Hopefully you now realize that quickly dismissing the idea of increase the number of quality hours of sleep you get each night is not a good idea. So what can you do? Try these….
1. Sleep-train yourself. In other words, go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, including weekends.
2. Get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. 6 hours of continuous sleep are often more recuperative than eight hours of interrupted sleep.
3. Catch up on lost sleep as soon as possible. Take naps if you have to rather than go through the day in a state of drowsiness.
4. Avoid caffeine after 2:00 p.m.
5. Avoid alcohol three hours before bed. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but it will also cause you to wake up regularly throughout the night.
6. Avoid strenuous exercise within three hours of going to bed.
7. Keep your bedroom comfortably cool.
8. Dim the lights.
9. Banish electronics. They create distractions by reminding you of everything else you should be doing and increase your stress level.
10. Read for relaxation. Reading for 30 minutes cuts the time it takes to fall asleep in half.
11. Protect your privacy. Restrict children and pets from entering your bedroom as bedtime approaches.
12. ‘Wind down’. Do whatever you consider to be relaxing, moderately boring, or doesn’t require concentration starting about 20 minutes before you want to fall sleep.
Light sleepers who are easily awakened by light or noise should consider wearing earplugs and a sleep mask as I do. You are sure to see a marked improvement in your sleep life!