When you start leading a busy lifestyle, sleep is usually one of the first things to take a hit. How often have you pulled all-nighters, or risen way too early in order to get a jump start on work or studies?
While failing to sleep on an occasional basis will not cause harm in the long haul, the lack of sleep on a regular basis can have detrimental effects on your health.
According to John Cronin, MD, medical director of Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center, over time, you gain a cumulative sleep deficit, which can have severe consequences. In this read, we are going to look at how chronic sleep deprivation can affect your safety and health as well as a few simple and straightforward tips to improve sleep.
The Repercussions of Sleep Deprivation
Although genetics and the circadian rhythm have a role to play in regard to how much sleep your body requires, most individuals need between 6 and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. According to Dr. Cronin, there is a huge array of things that sleep affects including:
All of these can be affected by lack of quality sleep and studies show that it correlates with increased risk-taking.
Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, and it has also been linked with anxiety, depression, heartburn, chronic pain, asthma, and arthritis. Inadequate sleep has also been linked with neurological disorders and dementia, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
Research has proven that the death rate in people who sleep for at least 9 hours per night is higher than in those who sleep 6 hours or less. The chances of causing an auto accident while sleep-deprived are almost that of driving at or above the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08%
Tips for Getting Quality Sleep
There are a few simple things you can do starting today in order to fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and improve the overall quality of your sleep.
However, you should avoid sleeping pills as they increase the risk of death by 4 times compared to those who don’t use them. Instead, Dr. Cronin recommends doing the following:
1. Limit the Use of Devices 30-60 Minutes before Bed
Electronics are known to emit blue light which prevents the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep.
2. Maintain a Regular Sleep and Wake-Up Time
Doing this, even during the weekends will help anchor your body to an automatic routine.
3. Limit Caffeine and Tobacco Intake
Avoid drinking or smoking later in the afternoon as this will disrupt your sleep. Limit alcohol intake as well. While it may help you sleep faster, it will ultimately, interrupt the later stages of your sleep.
4. Invest in a Comfortable Mattress
Often a mattress can make all the difference to whether you get a restful night’s sleep or not. If your mattress is over the recommended 8-10 years it may be time to invest in a new one. Take a look at this guide when choosing between hybrid mattresses.
Expert Sleep Statistics
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), about 60 million Americans experience sleep disorders every year.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services reports that 1 in 4 women struggle with insomnia and women are more likely to have trouble sleeping because of hormonal changes.
According to the National Institute on Aging, insomnia proves to be the most common sleep problem in seniors.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke states that on average, Americans dream for 2 hours a night, even though they might not remember.