July 22, 2024

Why Lack of Sleep is a Serious Health Threat by Royale Scuderi

There are not enough hours in the day to fit it all in. So much do, so little time. Sleep is usually the first to go. However, in actuality, sleep is the most important factor that determines the outcome of your days. It affects everything you do. It impairs the ability to function, our attitude, efficiency, and experience of life. We may sacrifice sleep to gain time, but we will lose in the long run. Sleep studies show that most Americans are functioning in a constant state of sleep deprivation, posing a serious threat to our safety as well as the quality of our lives and our work.  The consequences can be severe.

Short term:

Decreased Performance and Alertness. Sleep deprivation causes a measurable reduction in alertness, focus, and performance. A sleep deficit of as little as one hour of nightly sleep could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.

Memory and Cognitive Impairment. Excessive daytime fatigue and decreased alertness can impair memory and compromise the ability to think and process information.

Stress Relationships. Disruption of a sleep can cause irritability, moodiness, frustration, and conflict, resulting in significant relationship damage.

Poor Quality of Life. Fatigue, will certainly case a general lack of energy, and an inability to participate in activities that require sustained attention, or physical exertion. Going to the movies, playing with your children, and spending time with friends all seem like too much effort for the sleep-deprived person.

Injury. Excessive sleepiness also contributes to a greater risk of sustaining injuries, both at work and at home. Sleep deprivation is also the major factor in many automobile accidents.

Long term:

High blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, depression and other mood disorders. Memory and focus impairment. Lowered immune function. Poor general health. Shortened life span. Disruption of bed partner’s sleep quality. Lower overall quality of life.

Here’s How to Get Better Sleep:
Create a sleep routine. Developing a routine is important to better sleep habits. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day whenever possible. Include relaxing activities that signal the brain that it’s time to relax. Taking a bath before bed, listen to soothing music, meditate or write in a journal.

Avoid stimulation. Avoid all forms of caffeine after mid-afternoon. Even a tiny bit of caffeine can disrupt sleep. Also, avoid watching television, using electronics or stressful discussions before bedtime. It’s important to allow your mind time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Experts also recommend keeping the TV out of the bedroom.

Create a better sleep environment. The bedroom should be cool, optimally around 65 degrees. If noise bothers you, wear earplugs. Close the curtains, dim the alarm clock or wear a sleep mask to make the bedroom as dark as possible. It’s also a good idea to remove pets from the bedroom. Their movement and noises are disruptive to good sleep.

Get regular exercise. Regular exercise, reduces stress, releases endorphins and increases serotonin levels that relax the brain. The minimum recommended amount is at least 30 minutes a day 5-6 days a week. Try yoga, walking or gentle weightlifting if you’re beginning an exercise program.

Improve food choices. Choose nutritious foods and avoid alcohol, spicy foods, sugar, and eating a big meal before bed. Drink a glass of milk instead. Milk contains tryptophan, a chemical that induces sleep. If you enjoy coffee, tea, or soda in the evening, make sure that it is decaf. Also, be careful not to drink too much water prior to bed.

Consider natural sleep aids. There are many natural solutions to improve the quality of your sleep. Try melatonin, Valerian, Passionflower. Certain vitamins and minerals can also improve sleep. Try a calcium and magnesium supplement. Lack of these nutrients can cause muscle aches and leg cramps.

Avoid naps. Though you may be exhausted and need a nap to make it through the day, try to avoid or limit naps if you can. It may help in the short term, but interferes with nighttime sleep in the long term.

It is a difficult challenge to get enough sleep in this hectic world, but is imperative to make sleep a priority. It can make the difference between shuffling through your day or experiencing the high quality lifestyle you desire and deserve.

Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and Life Success expert who specializes in personal and professional growth, improving productivity, life balance, and well-being, as well as work and life success. Her lively and informative tips can be found on her Productive Life Concepts blog.