Sleep is necessary to keep you going, yet many people fail to consistently get a good night’s rest.
Sleep is an essential function that helps the body remain healthy. Sleep allows our bodies and minds to recharge. We cannot function properly without quality sleep, and this can affect the ability to think clearly, concentrate and process memories.
According to the Sleep Foundation, average adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. For a lot of people, getting that much sleep would be a dream come true!
What Causes Sleepless Nights?
If you dedicate seven to nine hours for sleeping and still find yourself unable to sleep through the night, there might be some common reasons why.
- Age: Studies show interrupted sleep is more prevalent in older adults. When you’re older, your circadian rhythm can dramatically shift and cause you to become sleepy earlier. If your biological clock puts you to sleep at 9 p.m., your natural wake time may now be 5 a.m.
- Diet: Certain eating habits can cause disrupted sleep, including drinking alcohol and eating close to bedtime. High-fat and spicy foods are also shown to cause symptoms like heartburn and indigestion, making it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Medications: Some antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, corticosteroids and cold remedies containing alcohol have been shown to cause nighttime waking. If you find yourself waking frequently during the night, ask your doctor if your medication could be to blame.
- Underlying conditions: Some health problems are known to interrupt sound sleeping, such as anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, chronic pain and neuropathy.
Consequences of Bad Sleep Habits
Insufficient amounts of sleep and/or lack of quality sleep can have serious consequences.
Studies show sleep deprivation can cause delayed reactions, attention lapses, mood shifts and overall reduced cognition. People can also develop a tolerance to chronic sleep deprivation, making them unaware of some repercussions because minimal sleep feels normal.
Lack of sleep is linked to a higher risk for certain diseases and conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type II diabetes
- Poor mental health
- Early death
Before-Bed Best Practices
It’s important to implement healthy sleep practices before serious consequences arise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adopting the following sleep habits:
- Be consistent with your sleep schedule
Set a fixed time to go to sleep and wake up, and stick with it every day. You should identify a target bedtime that ensures you can get seven to nine hours of sleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
For some, this could include winding down for 30 minutes with relaxing music or turning on an oil diffuser. For others, making the bedroom quiet, dark and turning the thermostat to a comfortable temperature is the perfect routine. Find what works for you!
- Get some exercise
Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
Setting Yourself Up for Good Sleep
Setting up for a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to start just before bedtime. Incorporating healthy practices such as eating a balanced diet, exercising and addressing stressors in your life can significantly improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
You may want to talk to a doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping or if the quality of your sleep is affecting your life. Visit https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-studies/how-to-talk-to-your-doctor-about-sleep to learn how to talk to a medical professional about sleep problems.
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