Sleep is more than a break from the stresses of daily life. It’s also crucial during which your brain consolidates memories, resolves psychological conflicts, and cements new skills into your long-term memory. In other words, sleep is the foundation of your mental health. If you don’t get enough sleep consistently, it can lead to stress and even severe conditions like depression and anxiety. Read on to learn about the science behind why you need more sleep than you think and some tips for getting more rest each night.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
If you’re not sure you’re getting enough sleep, then you probably are not. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue that many people face. It can lead to severe problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Sleep deprivation also impacts your ability to function correctly throughout the day. You might feel groggy or have trouble focusing on tasks that require lots of mental energy. Not getting enough sleep also increases your risk of car accidents, mistakes at work, and errors in judgment, which could seriously impact your livelihood. If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re also not allowing your brain to flush out toxins. Sleep is like a cleanup process for your mind. When you’re sleeping, your brain breaks down proteins that build up while awake. It also breaks down chemicals that build up during the day. Not only does not getting enough sleep make you feel terrible physically, but it can also impact your mental health and make it harder for you to focus and learn new skills.
How much sleep do we need?
Generally, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a day. However, the amount of sleep you need to function at your best varies from person to person and can be impacted by several factors, including your age, health, and lifestyle choices (like what you eat and how much caffeine you consume). When you go to sleep, your body goes through sleep cycles lasting 90 minutes consisting of 4 stages: lightest sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. A good night’s sleep consists of a minimum of 4 sleep cycles per night. Light sleep accounts for around 50% of the cycle, and REM sleep is 10%. For your body to function well, you must complete each cycle undisturbed.
To put this into perspective, 4 sleep cycles is 6 hours. The optimum sleep duration is 8 hours allowing you to have 6 cycles. The problem occurs when you are disturbed during one or all of these cycles leading to you feeling tired the following day and unrefreshed.
While everyone is different, two factors can help you determine if you’re getting enough sleep: improved mood and performance at work. If you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day, you’re probably getting enough sleep. If you’re waking up feeling exhausted, even after 8 hours of sleep, it’s time to reevaluate your sleep schedule and consider making some changes.
The adverse effects of lack of sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep, many vital parts of your body and brain suffer. You might experience symptoms like fatigue, trouble concentrating, memory loss, anxiety, and a lack of motivation, but what’s happening inside you is much more severe. Lack of sleep can affect your immune system, hormone levels, and cardiovascular health, leading to serious medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Your immune system is responsible for keeping you healthy, so supporting it with enough sleep is essential. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body must work harder to fight off infections, making you more susceptible to illnesses like the flu and colds. Sleep also plays an important role in regulating hormone levels, including growth hormone and cortisol, which can impact your ability to lose weight and regulate your appetite.
Extreme insomnia can be potentially fatal and play havoc on your cognitive functions, putting you at risk of harm to yourself and those around you. Other conditions that can interfere with your sleeping patterns and quality of sleep include Fibromyalgia, Sleep Apnea, Chronic Pain, Depression, narcolepsy, and breathing difficulties.
Tips to help you fall asleep and stay asleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can do a few things to help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep.
- First, keep a consistent sleep schedule. Your body likes structure, so try to go to bed and wake up at the exact times every day.
- Next, practice relaxation techniques before bed. This can help you de-stress and fall asleep faster. Some simple techniques include meditation, visualization, or even listening to some calm music.
- You can incorporate exercise into your day to help burn off energy and increase melatonin production to help you drift off to sleep more easily.
- Reduce blue light in the bedroom by removing electronics and TVs. Switch your phone off or turn it over to reduce the impact blue light has on our circadian rhythm and disrupts your sleep.
- Finally, consider making some changes to your sleep environment. Create a sleep sanctuary that is dark and quiet, and make sure that your bedroom is the perfect temperature for falling asleep.
Sleep Supplements You Can Try
While you shouldn’t be relying on aids to help you fall asleep, they have their place in assisting people in creating a better sleep routine and encouraging a deeper, more restful sleep. Those who have experienced trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or even getting enough restorative sleep can benefit from supplements such as Lavender, Valerian Root, cbn for sleep, and CBD, to name a few.
Sleep is essential for your health, and not getting enough can lead to serious health issues. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, but it varies from person to person. If you’re having trouble sleeping, keep a consistent sleep schedule, practice relaxation techniques, and make sure your sleep environment is dark, quiet, and at the perfect temperature.
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