There are dozens of things that can impede on a good night’s sleep, from work and social commitments to kids and household duties. It’s no wonder that each night can be a test for many people to see just how little sleep they can get away with. However, the risks of not getting enough sleep are wide-ranging and the effects of exhaustion are seriously detrimental. In fact, did you know that driving drowsy is considered just as dangerous as driving drunk? Everyone knows that losing sleep can make for a less alert and much more cranky and sleepy following day, but it can have many risky side effects inside the body too.
Here are just a handful of what chronic sleep loss can do to you:
- Higher risk for heart disease, heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure
- Increased risk of developing diabetes
- Depleted energy taking a toll on cognitive abilities, such as memory, sharpness and clarity
- Increased mental fogginess directly leading to more accidents, injuries and issues driving or at work
It is generally recommended that the average American adult get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. Here are just a few tips and tricks to revise your nightly habits so you can reap the benefits of consistent, full nights of rejuvenating sound sleep!
- Give yourself a bedtime. Once the kids are in bed and necessary household chores have been completed, enforce a self-imposed time for you to hit the sheets. If you stick to a bedtime of, say, 10 P.M., and consistently wake up at about the same time each morning, then you can train your body for these periods of sleep. If necessary, create a pre-bedtime ritual to get yourself into “sleep mode”. This can include taking a hot, relaxing bath, sipping warm tea, dimming the lights, changing into comfortable sleeping clothes or even meditating for a few minutes each evening.
- Limit your caffeine. If you drink coffee throughout the day, make a point to stop consuming it during the early to mid-afternoon. Having caffeine in your system throughout the evening and while you’re trying to fall asleep can affect your ability to get a sound night of slumber. Also, it usually goes without saying, but it’s typically a good idea to steer clear of the energy drinks anytime of the day!
- Stop staring at screens. The lighting that a screen gives off can mistakenly signal to receptors in the brain that it’s daytime, thus encouraging your mind and body to stay awake. Don’t bring phones, tablets, laptops or other devices into the bed with you and try not to fall asleep to the television set either. These electronics can all harm sleep quality as well.
- Create a space conducive to relaxation. If your body is a temple, then where you sleep should be a sanctuary, right? Ideally, it should be dark, calming, soothing and relaxing. Install blinds or curtains over the windows to block out light from outdoors, spring for a comfortable new mattress, paint the walls a calming color and make your bedroom a place where you WANT to go for the best night’s sleep. It should encourage your mind to settle down and allow for quality rest.
- Check your naps. Not only does frequent, lengthy napping throughout the day indicate that you’re not getting enough restful sleep at night, but long naps can also keep you up longer. Try to keep naps around 30 minutes for optimal benefits and don’t take naps later in the afternoon or evening. If not monitored properly, they can do more harm than good to your sleep schedule.
- Stay away from tobacco and alcohol. Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant and will encourage your brain and body to stay awake, particularly if smoked when trying to wind down for the night. It can keep you from falling asleep and worsen anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, while alcohol is a depressant and can initially cause drowsiness, it can have the opposite effect once it wears off. Alcohol can prevent a good night’s sleep and keep you tossing and turning until the morning alarm sounds. It may also cause you to get up and use the restroom more frequently throughout the night than if you hadn’t had a drink before bed.
Don’t let yourself live miserably – Try implementing these tips and tricks into your daily routine for better sleep, or see your doctor if the problem persists! If you’ve been battling sleep problems for longer periods of time, it may be best to speak to your physician about your issues. They can examine you for any underlying issues that may be exacerbating your sleep problems and discuss various solutions and available options to ensure more restful nights.
If you’re concerned about the quality of your sleep and its effect on your overall wellness, visit your nearest LuminCARE to speak to one of our expert physicians. With several convenient locations throughout the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex, we offer medical attention for the whole family, as well as occupational care, preventative care and rejuvenation and wellness services. Whether your sleep disruptions may be due to sudden stress or can be attributed to an underlying illness or ailment, rest assured that our teams are committed to working with you to resolve any issues while helping you regain the quality of life that you deserve!