Sleep should be part of a natural cycle but often it’s not. Countless advertisements promise aid to getting a good night’s sleep and over-the-counter products line the shelves of the nation’s pharmacies. Mattresses are promoted as providing a sound night of rest and many types of pillows are sold with the hope of finding some much needed rest.
Most healthy human adults require at least eight hours of sleep each night. Most Americans get six hours or less, making sleep deprivation epidemic. Sleep deprivation can be serious. It leads to more than just feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation can affect driving skills, cause mood swings, and cause emotional outbursts. It lowers job performance and lowers resistance to disease.
Lack of rest is the major factor in most cases of sleep deprivation but other factors include chronic insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, psychological disorders, restless leg syndrome and even medications. If any of these causes a lack of sleep, then a doctor should be consulted but for common sleep deprivation caused by lack of sleep, these suggestions may help.
Get up at the same time every day, including weekends. Although a late sleep-in appeals to the weary, sleeping late can only make sleep deprivation worse. Training the body to a set time regulates an internal clock. Retire each night at the same time for the same reason.
Don’t nap. Avoid falling asleep during daytime hours. If a nap can’t be avoided, limit it to 30 minutes or less.
Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, colas), alcholic beverage, and nicotine for four to six hours before retiring.
Don’t perform strenous excercise within four to six hours of bed time.
Don’t have a heavy meal or snack before bed. If snacking is a must, choose something light. Few people rest easy with a full stomach.
Try to go to sleep while drowsy. If drowsiness isn’t present, it may be better to get out of bed and find a quiet activity (reading, sewing, etc.) in another room until drowsiness returns.
Keep the bedroom quiet, dim, and comfortable. It’s often easier to sleep in a cooler room so consider lowering the thermostat at night or removing some of the coverings from the bed. If light is a problem, invest in heavy drapes, shades, or blinds for the bedroom.
Make the bedroom for sleeping. Don’t watch television, play games, use a computer, or perform other activities in the bedroom so that the room is associated with sleep.
If the mattress is worn, invest in a new one that is comfortable. Ensure that pillows are soft and comfortable, that the bedding is comfortable as well.
And, if late night telephone calls interrupt sleep, consider unplugging the phone, connecting an answering machine, or removing the phone from the bedroom.
If sleeplessness or fatigue continues for more than a few weeks, consult a medical professional. The problem may be more than simple sleep deprivation.