Do you often feel that you could use a few more hours of shuteye once the alarm clock jolts you awake in the morning? You might simply dismiss or even take for granted such feelings, but they may already be a sign of a more serious health condition called sleep deprivation.
In the medical field, sleep deprivation is the term generally used for situations where individuals do not attain the recommended amount of sleep, which is around seven to nine hours per day for the average adult. You might think that you are getting by just fine with fewer hours of sleep, but in time, you’ll eventually and increasingly notice detrimental effects on your health and well-being.
These symptoms of sleep deprivation include uncontrollable and excessive sleepiness during the day, overall lethargy, decreased energy, shifting moods, as well as poor memory and concentration. In turn, these can significantly impact your productivity at work and at home, not to mention the damage it can also cause to your personal and social relationships.
Should you find yourself experiencing any of the things mentioned above, it’s good to learn more about sleep deprivation and to do something about it before it gets worse. To that end, here are some tips for combatting it:
Dress the Part
You may not realize it, but what you wear to bed plays a big role in whether or not you’ll get a good night’s sleep. As such, take some time to choose and invest in high-quality sleepwear that will keep you cool and comfy in bed. The good news is that there is a wide variety of children’s, men’s, and women’s sleepwear readily available these days, especially online. Indeed, updating your bedtime wardrobe is an easy first step for addressing sleep deprivation.
Create a Conducive Sleep Environment
Your sleeping environment can significantly impact the quality of your sleep. Do you have a nice, comfortable bed? Is your bedroom set up in such a way that you find it easy to relax and doze off at night?
If you feel that it’s time to replace your bed, invest in an excellent mattress and a set of pillows that offer the right amount of firm yet soft support for your body type. Whenever you’re going to sleep, dim the lighting and keep the noise out of your bedroom by closing the doors and windows.
Try Natural Sleep Remedies
A lot of people swear by natural remedies for sleeping better. If you’ve been having a lot of trouble catching some zzz’s, there’s no harm in trying them out for yourself.
One such recommended ritual is sipping on a warm cup of chamomile tea before hitting the sack. You can also try aromatherapy oils such as lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, peppermint, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. In most cases, you can place a few drops of these oils onto a burner to diffuse them. If you plan to apply them directly to your skin, make sure that the oils are safe for that type of usage, or else you may be in for a night of itchy rashes.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Doing a set of activities or rituals before sleeping may help to condition your brain and make you more likely to fall asleep. Observe the same steps every night and establish a consistent and reliable pattern.
For example, start by donning your sleepwear, performing some stretching, washing your face, brushing your teeth, and then turning down the lights. You’d be amazed at how these seemingly simple actions can help set your body and mind up for a good night’s rest.
Avoid Using Electronics in Bed
With today’s technology-based lifestyle, many of us struggle to get some shut-eye because our televisions, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets keep us awake in bed. Additionally, these devices give off harmful blue light that may affect your body’s production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps to induce sleep.
Before bedtime, make sure to shut these gadgets off. Some may even come with a Night Mode that is specifically programmed to prevent notifications from waking you up in the middle of your slumber. To resist the temptation of checking your social media feeds, place your phone far away from your bedside.
Skip Coffee After Noon
The caffeine in your favorite cup of joe may be the reason why you’re always wide awake at night. It’s no wonder why, given that it takes a full 24 hours for this substance to get completely flushed out of the human body.
If you’re a fan of drinking coffee for breakfast, don’t worry. Having a cup of this beverage early in the day is fine, as only about 25 percent of the caffeine remains in your system come nighttime. However, drinking coffee after lunch will delay this process significantly, which means you’ll still have a substantial amount of caffeine left in your bloodstream even way past your bedtime.
Keep a Regular Waking Schedule
During the weekends, hitting the snooze button and staying in bed for longer is always a tempting prospect. Unfortunately, sleep experts say that this practice is actually harmful in the long run.
Why is that, exactly? Put simply, hitting ‘snooze’ doesn’t train your brain to remember when you’re naturally supposed to wake up. With that in mind, set your alarm clock to ring at the same time every day of the week. It will help discipline your brain as well as your body to know that it’s already gotten enough rest, and you’ll have a much easier time getting up as a result.
Don’t Fight Off the Urge to Nap
Ever wondered why you feel sleepy right after lunch? This is because your body naturally produces more of the sleep hormone, melatonin, during these hours.
That said, if you’ve had sufficient sleep the night before, you shouldn’t have a problem staying awake. But if you’re already sleep-deprived, don’t fight it off by drinking coffee. As previously discussed, taking in caffeine too late into the day will only make it more difficult for you to rest at night. Instead, when the urge to nap hits you, allow yourself a couple of minutes of shuteye. You’ll feel more refreshed afterward.
Avoid Substances That Make You Drowsy
Though some people depend on alcohol and sedative medications to knock them out at night, overdependence on these substances may bring you more harm than good. For one, ingesting too much of either substance is dangerous to your health. For another, both substances also mess up your body’s inherent sleep cycle and process, ultimately impacting your quality of sleep.
If you’ve developed a dependency on these substances, seek the guidance of a medical professional immediately. The sooner you can address this problem, the better for treating your sleep deprivation, too.
Make Use of Your Time Wisely
One of the most common causes of sleep deprivation is making lifestyle choices that curtail sleeping hours. Take for instance people who binge-watch their favorite TV shows on popular streaming platforms, or those who stay up late at night chatting with friends or family from the other side of the globe. These are perfect examples of sleep deprivation voluntarily caused by personal decisions.
While it’s perfectly fine to enjoy these activities, you should do so in moderation. Remind yourself that there is a finite number of hours in a day and you cannot live your life as if time were unlimited.
Aim for Work-Life Balance
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people become sleep deprived because of work conditions that require longer hours or night shifts. These irregular sleeping schedules can also be due to challenging family circumstances, such as caring for a newborn or an elderly loved one.
Never lose sight of the fact that your health and well-being should be your top priority. As such, don’t hesitate to draw boundaries against unreasonable professional demands or to seek help from family members if you feel overwhelmed with domestic responsibilities.
Sleep is one of the most important bodily processes that allow us to recharge and recuperate daily. Never take sleep for granted. If you do, sleep deprivation will surely wreak havoc on many areas of your life. The condition may be difficult to address at first, but the rewards will definitely make a positive impact on your overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you have any concerns about sleep deprivation not covered above, it’s best to seek the help of a medical professional so that you can get a better diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.