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A single sleepless night can wreak havoc not only your emotional well-being but on your physical and mental health as well. This can cause you to perform poorly at work and in school. Likewise, you could end up being more irritable and more likely to engage in fights with your friends and family. Even worse, inadequate sleep could cause you to make poor choices and end up endangering your own health and safety.
What are the biggest sleep deterrents?
There is a long-held belief that people need to sleep for 8 to 10 hours in order to reap the benefits of a good night’s rest. However, experts have found that adults only need at most 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep in order to recharge. Unfortunately, stress, sudden interruptions, and distractions can easily cut into that optimum sleeping schedule. For instance, you would expect to sleep a few hours less during hectic weekdays compared to more relaxed weekends. If you end up working overtime at the office or bringing your work back home, you might even end up working well into the morning and sleeping very little to compensate. This could lead to sudden bouts of sleepiness during daylight hours which could adversely affect your performance and concentration.
While children normally need a few more hours of sleep compared to adults, they could also end up sleeping less and less due to various physical distractions. Children who play with their phones will end up sleeping much less than the recommended time since the bright screen prevents them from falling asleep. The same goes for children who have televisions installed in their bedrooms.
Meanwhile, older adults might not be as easily distracted by fancy phones or televisions, but they still need to deal with other interruptions that could disturb their sleep. They might not be stressed with the pressures of work or school, however, their aging bodies will inevitably keep them awake at night.
After all, it can be difficult to stay in bed for a full 7 or 8 hours if your body keeps on telling you to go to the bathroom every few hours or so.
What are the effects of sleep deprivation?
As previously mentioned, constant sleep deprivation can cause even more than an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Sleeplessness can severely affect your cognitive function. It can cause you to become more forgetful, more irritable, and more miserable by the day.
You will also find it harder to think on your feet and to make important life decisions. Your reaction time will also be compromised and you might end up getting into dangerous accidents especially if you find yourself on the road.
Lastly, a constant lack of sleep can cause your body to find other methods to compensate. You could end up eating more and put yourself at risk for developing obesity and diabetes. Likewise, your heart might overcompensate for the lack of sleep by working harder and will eventually lead to the development of various heart diseases.
What are the different sleep disorders?
While most people would be able to find a way to sleep better once their stressors and distractions are removed, others might need to be given more serious professional assistance. If you find that even the perfect conditions cannot put you to sleep or to keep you asleep, then it could be that you are suffering from a serious sleep disorder.
Delving into the realm of sleep disorders can be confusing and overwhelming. After all, there are over 80 different types of sleep disorders. In order to make your journey a little bit easier, listed below are 4 of the most common and most famous sleep disorders:
People suffering from insomnia often have difficulty falling asleep. The disorder also causes people to suddenly and frequently wake up during the night. Additionally, even if they do manage to sleep for a few hours they might still wake up much earlier than they originally planned. This causes them to feel unrefreshed and unsatisfied with their sleep. Some of the other symptoms of insomnia are constant fatigue, moodiness, lack of concentration, clumsiness, and sudden bouts of sleepiness. Insomnia can be separated into two different categories. The first category is acute or adjustment insomnia which is temporary and infrequent. The second category is chronic insomnia which has more long term effects and can last for weeks or even months at a time. In some cases, symptoms of insomnia can also be associated with more serious psychiatric conditions.
Although it is not as common as the previous disorder, sleep apnea can have more dangerous consequences than insomnia. A person suffering from sleep apnea could suddenly stop breathing while they are asleep.
Like insomnia, there are also two categories of sleep apnea. The first category is known as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. This results when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses. This causes an obstruction in the airway that makes it difficult for a person to breathe. Most of the people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea often end up snoring loudly or feeling restless during their sleep.
The second category of sleep apnea is known as central sleep apnea or CSA. Unlike, OSA, central sleep apnea does not result from blocked airways or collapsed soft tissues. Instead, the brain is unable to alert the central nervous system and thus causes the body to stop breathing altogether. Fortunately, most of the people who suffer from CSA will still be able to wake up and simply end up gasping for air in the middle of the night.
People who suffer from narcolepsy often experience sudden bouts of sleepiness at any point during the day or night. This neurological disorder can cause them to fall asleep at any time and at any place.
Even if they are not doing anything particularly strenuous or exciting, patients who suffer from narcolepsy can suddenly feel weak and collapse. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that can often go undiagnosed since its symptoms can appear at any age. For this reason, many narcoleptics often go through their lives without undergoing treatment.
Restless legs syndrome
Unlike the sudden jerking reaction that you experience during a dream, restless legs syndrome or RLS is a sleep disorder that causes more intense leg movements. The movements are often involuntary and can occur even if you are merely sitting or lying down. Some sufferers constantly walk around and move their legs in order to get relief.
Nevertheless, the symptoms of restless legs syndrome can occur more frequently while you are sleeping at night. This causes you to wake up unintentionally and effectively shorten the amount of time that you spend asleep. You might end up suffering from irritability and fatigue to the day as a result.
How are sleep disorders identified?
Most of the symptoms associated with sleep disorders can also be linked to other illnesses. For that reason, your primary health care physician will need to rule out a few other non-sleep related illnesses before he can refer you to a sleep specialist.
Sleep specialists often exclusively work at sleep disorder clinics. These sleep clinics are equipped with special machines that can help your doctor diagnose
your exact disorder.
Once you are referred, the sleep specialist might require you to undergo a sleep study or polysomnogram. This test is composed of multiple components that are designed to record your physical reactions while you sleep. Once the reactions are compiled and analyzed, your physician can then assess whether or not you are suffering from a sleep disorder.
What can you do to get better and longer hours of sleep?
If you are not suffering from any serious sleep disorder, it is possible to get a good night’s sleep by simply making a few adjustments in your routine and in your environment. Listed below are a few tips that can help you achieve a truly restful sleep.
Fix your surroundings
The most suitable environment for sleeping is one that is cool, quiet, and dark. While some people might need a nightlight in order to prevent the room from feeling too dark, a comfortable dark space can help induce sleep by signaling the end of the day.
In order to lessen the amount of noise, you can try to wear ear plugs or other noise canceling devices. You can also invest in thicker curtains that can block out more light and noise from the outside.
Calm your thoughts
A restless mind will never let you rest. Accomplish as much as you can during the day and allow yourself some time to relax at night. Never go to bed stressed and with negative thoughts.Find a way to clear your mind and eliminate any distractions. Making a to-do list can help you manage your stressors and give you some much-needed structure. By knowing all of the things that you need to accomplish in advance, you will be able to rest easier knowing that you have enough time to do everything in the morning.
Doing Meditation especially before going to bed is higly recommended. If you are a beginner in Meditation then start with simple Deep breathing and Chanting Mantra OM. Meditation relaxes your mind and body. It gives you a perfect calm-down effect.
Some Essential Oils such as Lavender, Bergamot Oil, Vetiver Essential Oil and Ylang Ylang Essential Oil are very effective on our bodies. Use them in aroma
diffuser for 2-3 hours at night time. You can create a blend by mixing all these essential oils together.
Create a routine
Set a specific time for sleeping and waking and make it a routine. Try to observe that schedule even if you are busy or are on a holiday.
Let your body and mind feel restful as soon as you enter your bedroom by devoting that space exclusively to sleeping. As much as possible, do not eat, work, or watch television in your room.
Check the clock
Though constantly watching the clock will only keep you awake even longer, being conscious of the time can help you create and strengthen your bedtime routine. Napping a few minutes a day can be beneficial, but you should make sure that your naps do not last longer than 30 minutes at most. Likewise, avoid taking naps after 3 or 4 pm since these naps might interfere with your body clock.
You should also avoid consuming any stimulants during the latter part of the day since these will keep you awake for longer periods. Heavy meals, as well as caffeinated drinks, should not be consumed within 4 to 5 hours before your desired bedtime.
The value of getting sufficient and restful sleep should not be taken for granted. Understanding what happens while you are sleeping will help you take the necessary steps in order to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. When you are armed with everything you need to know about sleep, you can hit the sack, sleep tightly, and have sweet dreams. More importantly, you will wake up recharged and ready to face the day ahead of you.
Read More such interesting articles by Paul at his personal blog: RigorFitness.com.