How to Ensure You Get Enough Sleep Every Night
If you’re not getting enough sleep, either due to working long hours or because of insomnia, there is a high price to pay: Insufficient sleep compromises your health.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects your body and mind in a number of ways; for instance, it negatively impacts your moods, reduces your cognitive abilities, and compromises your immune system. Many physiological problems occur because insufficient sleep causes a spike in your level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Additionally, it down regulates neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which help you function at your best and brightest.
Since getting a good night’s rest is essential for your health and well being, let’s take a closer look at how involuntary and voluntary reasons affect your sleep and the best course of action to take:
Involuntary Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is involuntary if you want to sleep and you go to bed early enough to get enough sleep, but then find it difficult to drop off to sleep, waking up frequently during the course of the long night.
If the reason for your sleep deprivation is involuntary, here are 4 questions you can ask yourself to figure out the root cause of your insomnia so that you can take corrective action:
- “Is it my bed?”
If you’re having difficulty getting a good night’s rest, then you need to identify what’s making you restless. If it’s a lumpy mattress, then invest in a new one. If you get heartburn, aching muscles, or some other source of discomfort when you lie in a traditional bed, then try a sleep chair, which is a zero-gravity chair that allows you to sleep in any position, from upright to inclined to flat, until you find a position that’s perfectly comfortable.
- “Is it my bedroom?”
Insomnia can sometimes be due to sleeping in a bedroom that is more stimulating than relaxing. If, for instance, your home is near a busy street, then bright streetlights and the sound of rushing cars could be disrupting your sleep. Other reasons why your bedroom may not be a restful place might be because of loud noises, perhaps due to a blaring television or people talking in the next room, or because of too much light, perhaps from electronic devices glowing in the dark, like digital clocks, computers, or stereo equipment. You can make your room more relaxing by finding ways to make your room darker and quieter; for instance, using blackout shades can make your room dark enough for the pineal gland in your brain to start secreting the sleep hormone melatonin, and earplugs can mute out loud noises.
- “Is it my lifestyle?”
Many lifestyle choices could be disrupting your sleep cycle:
- · Insufficient exercise could result in aching muscles and joints due to high inflammation and poor blood circulation.
- · Regularly eating junk food could be throwing off your hormonal balance.
- · Working at a job you loathe could be causing you to worry at nights.
- · Living with people who don’t share your values could be making you feel angry and resentful as you lie in bed trying to drop off to sleep.
- · Habits could be disrupting your circadian rhythm: eating big meals, smoking, or drinking coffee or alcohol before bedtime; not establishing a bedtime schedule, or taking long afternoon naps.
- “Is it my health?”
Poor health is often a reason for insomnia, and if you think this might be the cause then speak to your doctor to begin to work toward a solution.
Voluntary Sleep Deprivation
If you’ve ever complained that there just aren’t enough hours of the day to get all the things you needed to get done, then you’re not alone. And, like most people facing this dilemma, you’ve probably limited the number of hours you sleep at night so you that can add a few more hours to your day.
If working long, hard hours is the cause of sleep deprivation, then all you have to do is to either go to bed earlier or get up later. This will help you to restore your natural circadian rhythm, which is an internal 24-hour clock that works like a hidden program running in the background of your brain to regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
Sleep is important because it re-establishes energy conservation. When you get enough sleep, your brain has the time it needs to replenish its glycogen levels, and your body can get to work on synthesizing hormones, rebuilding damaged muscles, and restoring and rejuvenating numerous metabolic processes.
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