Good Sleep Health - What You Can Do About It

Millions of Americans suffer from a lack of sleep. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that insufficient sleep has become a public health epidemic. The lack of sleep is not only being linked with an increase in poor performance, but it has been linked with an increase of other types of chronic disease. A lack of sleep, does not always come from the lack of trying to sleep. Unfortunately, many people suffer from a lack of sleep even though they are spending more than enough time in the bed. If you suffer from a lack of sleep, there are steps that you can take to correct this.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

As you age, your body requires less sleep. Although, your teenager may try to sleep as much as they did when they were a newborn, it is not because their body requires it. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, along with the CDC recommends the following:

  • Newborns - 16 to 18 hours per day
  • Preschool children - 11 to 12 hours per day
  • School age children - approximately 10 hours per day
  • Teens - 9 to 10 hours per day
  • Adults - 7 to 8 hours per day

When it is not possible to get the sleep that your body needs, you create a sleep debt. This is sleep that you essentially owe your body. Unfortunately, it is not sleep that can really be paid back. 

Why Are You Not Sleeping?

There are many reasons that people fail to get enough sleep. Sometimes it is because you suffer from a sleep disorder. The four major disorders that affect the majority of people are:

Sleep apnea is by far the most common of the four, but all four of these are very serious disorders. If you suspect that you suffer from any of these, you need to contact your healthcare professional to be diagnosed and treated. Treatments may vary based on the disorder that you have, as well as the cause of the disorder. Doctors may prescribe anything from medications, to a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.

A CPAP is a machine that is used as the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Most patients who are diligent about using their machines, report a significant change in not only in their sleep patterns, but in other areas of their lives which were being affected by their sleep deprivation. In addition to participating in the treatment prescribed by your physician, there are other ways that you can help to restore a healthy sleep cycle and have better sleep hygiene. 

What Can You Do?

Do you sleep with your cell phone plugged in at the head of your bed? Do you hear your phone vibrate, ring, or ding throughout the day? If you are like many people, you are connected 24/7. This constant cognitive stimulation could be keeping you from falling asleep or sleeping well. Even the light from your phone can affect the quality of your sleep.

  • It is an easy fix. All you have to do is turn it off. Shut down your electronics before you start getting ready for bed. Turn off your phones, your tablets, and even your televisions. Plug your phones up to charge in outlets in other rooms in the house.
  • Create and maintain a regular bedtime routine. Your body will become accustom to your routine, and will begin to anticipate that it is time to go to sleep.
  • Try to avoid napping throughout the day. Although power naps can make you feel refreshed and refueled, they can fragment your sleep. This can keep you from sleeping soundly when it comes time to go to bed. 
  • Watch the amount of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and medications that you consume prior to going to bed. Any of these can have an adverse effect on your sleep patterns.

If you still cannot sleep, try maintaining a sleep diary. This will help you learn more about your patterns, as well as give you documentation for you to discuss your sleep disturbances with your doctor. Click here here for more information.