Sleep is a critical period for the brain and body to grow and heal itself. Our hectic job schedules, family obligations, and social commitments mean that many of us are sleeping less than we should.
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More than half of Americans prioritize work, fitness, and other responsibilities over getting a good night’s sleep according to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2018. Nearly a quarter of Americans don’t get enough rest, and one in six has been diagnosed with a sleep problem or is taking a sleeping pill.
What Is a Good Night’s Sleep?
You should wake up feeling rested, alert, and ready to face the day after a good night’s sleep If you wake up in the middle of the night, you may need a few minutes to get your bearings. If you have healthy sleep habits and a good bedtime routine, you will find it easy to fall asleep and wake up only once or twice each night.
In order to get a good night of sleep, it’s not just about how long you’re in bed. 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.
The following symptoms may indicate that you aren’t getting enough sleep:
- Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning or staying asleep at night.
- When you wake up, you don’t feel refreshed.
- Feeling sluggish, sleepy, or fatigued throughout the day.
- Reduced ability to concentrate or perform well in school, the workplace, or during sports.
- Caffeine dependence that is out of control.
- Frequent wakings at night.
- Feelings of insufficient sleep on the part of the subject.
Memory, focus, mood, and daytime tiredness can all be affected by a lack of sleep in the short term. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get involved in car accidents or suffer injuries at work.
Diabetes, obesity, and heart disease have been linked to poor sleep in the long run.
There is an increased risk of breast cancer and stroke among shift workers who sleep irregularly. Anxiety and despair can both be exacerbated by sleep deprivation.
How Does Sleep Change Throughout the Lifespan?
As we get older, our sleep requirements fluctuate, as do our individual sleep requirements, which can be influenced by a variety of other circumstances. Our circadian rhythm, or “body clock,” tells us when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to stay awake. 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 a night, while teens need eight to ten hours.
Between seven and eight hours a night is the ideal amount of sleep for older folks. Seniors, on the other hand, are more likely to have restless nights, frequent overnight awakenings, and a reduction in total sleep time. Medication or a medical condition may increase these issues.
There are persons who have a circadian rhythm that conflicts with the demands of society. Early school start times, on the other hand, conflict with a teenager’s natural inclination to rise earlier and sleep later. Shift workers may also have difficulty maintaining a regular bedtime due to their unpredictable work hours.
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 professions that force night owls to wake up early can lead to persistent insomnia and other health problems. As a result, new research reveals that women are more sleep-deprived than men.
It is possible that sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome (RLS), obstructive pulmonary disease (OPD), narcolepsy, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can disrupt your rest (GERD). Reach out to your healthcare physician if you suspect that a secondary health condition is creating sleep issues.
How to Wake Up Feeling Refreshed
An alarm clock may not be necessary in the ideal situation. This will happen naturally if you’re receiving enough rest.
We go through four stages of sleep throughout the course of a single night. Stages one and two of sleep are referred to as “light sleep,” since our bodies are getting ready to sleep more deeply. Slow-wave sleep, the third stage of sleep, is when the body does its repair and growth work. In stage four or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, we have dreams.
The amount of time spent in REM sleep increases throughout the course of the night, from roughly 90 minutes on average. We must get enough slow-wave and REM sleep if we want to wake up feeling rested.
When we awaken from a light (stage one or two) sleep, we feel our best. In contrast, waking up during slow-wave sleep can leave you feeling drowsy and disorientated, while awakening from a vivid dream during REM sleep can be unsettling.
For some, counting backwards from their preferred wake-up time helps them determine their bedtime so that the alarm can be set for the conclusion of a sleep cycle. Remember that sleep cycles might be shorter or longer even within the same night, and that interruptions or difficulties falling asleep can cause a change in your sleep cycle routine.
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. As part of this practice, keep track of how you feel when you first wake up to see if there are any areas that need improvement. Tracking your sleep patterns with a wearable device or smartphone app can help improve your nighttime routine.
Sleep Hygiene Tips for Better Sleep
Practicing good sleep hygiene is making changes to your day and nightly routines in order to have a better night’s sleep. It’s a theory that by sending your body clock day-night cues, you’ll be able to achieve better sleep at night.
- To help you relax and drift off to sleep, create a dark, cold, and quiet space in your bedroom. You should only use your bed for sleeping and having sex, and not for anything else. The purchase of a new mattress, pillow, or sheets may improve your sleep.
- The easiest method to avoid insomnia is to stick with a regular bedtime and wake time. Even while sleeping in on weekends to make up for lost sleep disrupts your circadian cycle, a little afternoon nap may be preferable if you’re running low on shut-eye. You should also avoid snoozing your alarm because fragmented sleep is less restorative than a full night’s sleep.
- Sleep specialists advocate shutting off your phone an hour before bed and muting notifications to avoid arousal. If you wake up in the middle of the night, use a nightlight instead of turning on the overhead light.
Harness Early morning sun exposure can help you reestablish a more regular circadian cycle. It also enhances the quality of your sleep, resulting in longer periods of slow-wave sleep, which is better for your health.
- When done in moderation and not too late in the day, regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you sleep better at night. Eat smaller meals throughout the day and limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as these stimulants can keep you awake at night.
- Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation methods can help you sleep better at night if stress is keeping you awake at the crack of dawn. Bedtime rituals can help many people wind down and prepare for sleep. Reading a book, having a bath, brushing your teeth, and putting on pajamas are all examples of this. Do something else to unwind if you’ve been tossing and turning for more than 15 minutes before returning to bed.
- Be Wary of Sleeping Pills: Many people have had success with melatonin, sleeping pills, CBD oil, and other sleep aids, but there may be adverse effects, so they should only be taken as a last resort.
Taking sleep medicines safely
Your doctor may recommend hypnotic sleep drugs if lifestyle adjustments have failed to improve your sleep. These sleep aids have the potential to speed up the process of falling asleep and keeping you sleeping, but they are not without risk. To ensure that you’re taking these medications in the safest possible manner, here are some guidelines:
How much sleep do I need?
Experts recommend adults get seven to eight hours of unbroken sleep each night to help their bodies and minds recuperate. 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.
- You shouldn’t consume anything before going to sleep.
- Before you go to sleep, take a warm shower or bath to relax your muscles and mind.
- You can use breathing exercises or meditation to help you relax and let go of the stresses of the day. You’ll find relaxing and meditation tools right here.
What can I do to make my bedroom a better place to sleep?
Reduce the amount of light and noise. Take a moment to think about the quality of your bedding. Set the temperature to a suitable level by adjusting the thermostat and opening the windows.
Avoid utilizing your bedroom to work on your laptop, watch movies, or engage in other activities that aren’t related to nighttime. In the opinion of sleep experts, your bedroom should only be used for sleeping and having sex. A sleep-related association is formed in your brain as a result.
Would a nightcap help me fall asleep?
At least an hour before going to bed, you should refrain from drinking alcohol. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly for a while.
However, it has the potential to diminish rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, particularly after two or more drinks. When we dream, we are at the rejuvenating stage of the sleep cycle. 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?
In order to stay healthy, it is advised that you work out for at least 30 minutes each day. Getting some activity early in the day or late in the day can improve your sleep quality, but working out right before bedtime will keep you awake.
Exercise can cause sleep disturbances for certain people because it increases body temperature, accelerates up heart rate, and activates the neurological system.
What should I do if I can’t fall asleep?
Adjust your sleeping position to see whether it improves your quality of sleep. The use of deep breathing, meditation, or other relaxation techniques can also be beneficial. For some, counting sheep is an effective method of self-examination. 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?
Products that can be purchased at the pharmacy can be useful and safe for insomnia. Doctors, on the other hand, caution against relying on them for long periods of time. Be sure to discuss any suspected side effects with your doctor. 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. It’s time to turn off your cell phone. Let your friends and neighbors know when you’ll be sleeping so they don’t bother you. If necessary, make plans for child care and do your best to remove any other sources of disturbance to your sleep.