Do you sleep enough at night? If you’re like many adults, the answer is probably no.
More than 15 percent of French adults regularly don’t get enough sleep at night, meeting the criteria for chronic insomnia. Even higher numbers of Americans and Britons don’t get enough sleep. Are you among them?
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
You may be sleep deprived if you experience symptoms including:
Falling asleep quickly at night
Falling asleep during the day
What Happens When You Don’t Sleep Well
Not getting enough sleep at night can affect your ability to function in daily life. Your mood may be altered, leaving you more irritable and prone to depression and anxiety, and issues with relationships. Sleep deprivation may make it difficult to remember information, think clearly, or react quickly.
Sleep deprivation can have a profound effect on your health. When you don’t sleep well, you’re at a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. And drowsy driving can be dangerous, if not deadly.
What Happens When You Sleep Well
When you sleep well, you’re more prepared for every day. A good night of uninterrupted rest results in rejuvenation. Sleep offers muscle repair, consolidation of memories, and hormone regulation. After a good night’s sleep, you can wake up healthier, and more prepared to think clearly and react well to everyday life.
How You Can Sleep Better
If you struggle to sleep well, you’re certainly not alone. But you don’t have to accept sleep deprivation as a way of life. Improving your sleep habits can offer a better night’s sleep and relief from sleep deprivation.
Get treatment for sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation can be serious. If you regularly struggle to sleep well, you may have a sleep disorder. Talk to your doctor about treatment if you show signs of a sleep disorder.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Every night, go to bed at about the same time each night and wake up about the same time each morning. You should follow this schedule even on weekends and vacations, as a consistent sleep schedule can help you sleep better.
Make time for sleep. Even if you have a lot of demands on your time, make sleep a priority. Plan ahead and get to sleep early enough that you can get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Make your bedtime routine relaxing. Go through a regular bedtime routine each night and incorporate relaxing elements such as a hot bath, reading a book, or getting a massage.
Establish a healthy sleep environment. Consider how supportive your bedroom is for sleep. Your bedroom should be quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable, with a mattress that meets your needs for comfort and support.
Cut off devices early. Exposure to light at night can interfere with the quality of your sleep, and the light emitted by screens is especially harmful. Stop screen time at least one hour before bed for better sleep.
Avoid caffeine, heavy meals, and alcohol before bed. Caffeine can make you feel too alert to sleep at night and should be avoided before bed. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can lower the quality of your sleep, so don’t use a nightcap to get to bed. You shouldn’t go to bed hungry, but avoid eating a heavy meal before bed, which can require your body to use energy for digestion instead of sleeping.
Sleep deprivation is common, and it can interfere with your quality of life. Take control of your sleep with healthy habits so that you can rest well at night.
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org