Most experts agree that the best things you can do for your health is to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Sufficient sleep is important for many aspects of our physical and emotional well-being.
However, for many Americans, getting enough sleep is the thing they are desperately missing. It is estimated that about 70 percent of Americans are chronically sleep-deprived, according to Frank Lipman MD, founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.
Sleep deprivation, especially for an extended period of time, can cause a multitude of problems. These problems may include:
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
There are many reasons most Americans are not getting enough sleep. Some are medically induced as is the case with those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, chronic pain, dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal area, or hormonal imbalances, specifically those affecting the reproductive, adrenal or thyroid hormones.
There are also several lifestyle factors that can prevent you from getting enough sleep. Excessive stress, an over-excited nervousness system, and an unhealthy diet can cause anyone to suffer from lack of sleep. Unhealthy diet can include excess sugar and processed foods, as well as too much gluten and dairy for some.
The use, misuse, or overuse of stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, illegal drugs, herbs, some vitamins, and certain medications may also affect your sleep habits.
The good news is that you do not have to suffer in silence. There are things you can do to get more sleep as well as get better quality sleep. Being able to get enough sleep isn't something you just work on at night. It is an all-day process.
3 Things You Can Do Today To Get Better Sleep Tonight
1) Get some light
Spend some time each day in bright light. This is especially important if you are among the many Americans who work long hours in an artificially lit office. Try taking 30 minutes each day to soak up some natural sun — while you are covered with sunscreen and other sun protections, of course.
This may help to reset your biological clock, which can trigger hormones and chemicals to be released which aids in regulating your mood, sleep, and even your aging process.
We all know exercise will help us maintain a healthy weight, but it is also something that can help promote better and deeper sleep cycles. Try to work out in the morning, or at least not too close to bedtime. Each individual is unique, though, so find out what works for you.
3) Make your bedroom cool and dark
Having a cool bedroom is optimal for getting enough sleep. The cooler temperature (between 60 and 67 degrees) tells your brain it is nighttime and it needs to release more sleep hormones. Having an extremely dark room also signals to your body that it is time for sleep.
Admitting to yourself that you aren't getting enough sleep is the first step to solving your problem. For some, a few lifestyle changes might be enough to make a difference in your sleep habits.
Others might need to work with a medical professional to help overcome their lack of sleep. Either way, there are ways to get more zzzz's in your life!
Mayoclinic.com. Web. 13 July 2015. "Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep".
Goop.com. Web. 13 July 2015. "How to get better sleep."
Sleep foundation.com. Web. 13 July 2015. "Healthy sleep tips."
Reviewed July 16, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith