How To Sleep Better
If youre experiencing mild, occasional problems with sleep, try these simple strategies from sleep expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM.
1. Treat getting enough sleep as if it is as important as taking medicine.
With all the demands on our time every day, you might put a good nights rest at the bottom of your priority list. But Dr. Drerup says we need to schedule adequate time for sleep.
Its very easy to stay up late and burn the candle at both ends, she says. However, when you do that, you quickly run into a problem of dealing with sleep deprivation.
2. Keep a consistent wake time.
Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends or days off. Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night. A fixed wake time helps to build a strong desire for sleep throughout wakefulness. This sleep drive gradually builds, and shortening it by sleeping in will make it harder to fall asleep the next night. Sleeping in on the weekend makes it much more difficult to wake up earlier on Monday morning.
It also is important, Dr. Drerup says, to do some relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime. By making these activities part of your bedtime ritual, you can train yourself to associate these activities with sleep. This association will help you to move more easily into slumber.
3. Put away the smart phones and tablets.
4. If you do wake up during the night, avoid looking at the clock.
Tiredness Makes It Hard To Speak Normally
Severe sleep deprivation seems to affect your ability to carry on a conversation much like having too much to drink.
“Volunteers kept awake for 36 hours showed a tendency to use word repetitions and clichés they spoke monotonously, slowly, and indistinctly,” one study noted. “They were not able to properly express and verbalize their thoughts.”
How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Actually Need
It depends on how well you want your brain to work
ByClaire Maldarelli | Updated Jul 28, 2021 10:54 AM
Sleep is a time suck. If you multiplied the average recommended number of hours we should sleep in a dayeight for a typical adultby the number of days in an average lifespan , that would amount to about 9,587.3 days. Thats one third of your life spent unconscious. From an evolutionary standpoint, sleep is quite literally a waste of your time, yet its fought its way through countless years of adaptation in nearly every living animal on Earth. So it must be important, right?
In fact, researchers have found that sleep plays a vital role in the functioning of nearly every organ system in the body. At the same time, medical conditions, a busy schedule, and even the simple unavoidable act of aging constantly challenge the number of hours we allow ourselves. But that begs the question: how much sleep do we actually need? And can we train ourselves to need less?
And that wasnt the only study to support the eight-hour sleep schedule. Back in 1938, a sleep researcher named Nathaniel Kleitman and one of his students spent 32 days living in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, one of the longest and deepest caves in the worldan environment completely void of sunlight. When they analyzed their sleep patterns, they found that they, too, slept about eight to eight and a half hours per night.
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Skin Doesn’t Heal As Well From Damage When You Are Tired Leading To Skin Aging
Poor sleep quality is strongly correlated with chronic skin problems, according to research from the University of Wisconsin. Studies have also found that when skin is damaged by the sun or other factors, it doesn’t heal as well in poor sleepers, so those people wind up showing more signs of skin aging.
How Does A Night Of Poor Sleep Affect Our Mood Behavior And Performance The Next Day
But how much sleep do I really need? Everyone is different, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. And contrary to popular belief, sleeping an extra hour or two on the weekends can not make up for the lost sleep you may be experiencing over the course of a busy week. It could also throw off your internal body clock and possibly lead to Sunday night insomnia. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is the best way to regulate the body’s clock.
While pulling an all-nighter might seem like a feat worth celebrating, here’s a look at what you’re putting your body through.
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How To Prevent And Treat Sleep Deprivation
If you have ongoing or worsening problems with insufficient sleep or daytime sleepiness, working with your doctor is a good first step to getting relief. Your doctor can assess your situation and recommend treatment that best suits your needs.
In most cases, a focus on sleep hygiene your sleep environment and daily habits is a central component of preventing and treating sleep deprivation. The following sections outline some key sleep hygiene improvements for people who get insufficient sleep.
Ological Issues And Common Biases
Although the adverse effects of SD on cognitive performance are quite well established, some studies have failed to detect any deterioration. Inadequate descriptions of study protocols or subject characteristics in some studies make it difficult to interpret the neutral results. However, it is likely that such results are due to methodological shortcomings, such as insensitive cognitive measures, failure to control the practice effect or other confounding factors, like individual sleep history or napping during the study. Also, if the task is carried out only once during the SD period, the results may be influenced by circadian rhythm.
Sleep deprivation studies are laborious and expensive to carry out, which may lead to compromises in the study design: for example, a small sample size can reduce the statistical power of the study, but a larger population may come at the expense of other methodological issues, such as a reduction in the cognitive test selection or in the number of nights spent in the sleep laboratory. Comparison of the results is also complicated because the length of sleep restriction varies and the studies are designed either within- or between-subjects.
Longest Periods Without Sleep
Randy Gardner holds the scientifically documented record for the longest period of time a human being has intentionally gone without sleep not using stimulants of any kind. Gardner stayed awake for 264 hours , breaking the previous record of 260 hours held by Tom Rounds of Honolulu.LCDR John J. Ross of the U.S. Navy Medical Neuropsychiatric Research Unit later published an account of this event, which became well known among sleep-deprivation researchers.
Claims of total sleep deprivation lasting years have been made several times, but none are scientifically verified. Claims of partial sleep deprivation are better documented. For example, Rhett Lamb of St. Petersburg, Florida was initially reported to not sleep at all, but actually had a rare condition permitting him to sleep only one to two hours per day in the first three years of his life. He had a rare abnormality called an ArnoldChiari malformation where brain tissue protrudes into the spinal canal and the skull puts pressure on the protruding part of the brain. The boy was operated on at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg in May 2008. Two days after surgery he slept through the night.
At 36 Hours: Physical Health Starts To Be Negatively Impacted
Now your health begins to be at risk. High levels of inflammatory markers are in the bloodstream, says Cralle, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, hormones are affected your emotions can be all over the place.
Once Kelley reached 36 hours without sleep, his head started buzzing as though he were dehydrated, and he began to lose motivation. His responses were dependent on his training, and in some instances, he functioned on autopilot and lost chunks of time. Once, he was called back to duty just as he was about to go to sleep after 36 hours on the job, he recounted. “After a quick briefing, I grabbed my gear and flew out by helicopter, got dropped off in the middle of nowhere, and hiked out to the FOB . The next day, we rode back through the most dangerous road in central Afghanistan, but I dont remember leaving the FOB or hardly anything that happened until I got back to the base.
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Make Sleep A Priority
Chronic insufficient sleep often occurs when people choose to sacrifice sleep in favor of work, leisure, or other obligations. To counteract this, its critical to take steps to make sleep a priority:
- Have a consistent sleep schedule: You should strive to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. In planning those times, make sure to budget time to get enough sleep. Once youve settled on your schedule, follow it closely, even on weekends. Stability in your sleep routine helps avoid fluctuations in your nightly sleep.
- Set boundaries in your work and social life: Its easy for the demands of your personal or professional life to chip away at your dedicated time for sleep, so its helpful to set boundaries so that you preserve the full time you need for rest each night.
- Have a bedtime routine: Get yourself ready each night with the same steps such as quietly reading or stretching, putting on pajamas, and brushing your teeth. A steady bedtime routine can put you in the right frame of mind to sleep well each night.
Teenage Sleep Deprivation Other Issues To Consider
If lack of sleep is still a problem despite your best efforts, suggestions include:
- Assess your sleep hygiene. For example, factors that may be interfering with your quality of sleep include a noisy bedroom, a lumpy mattress or the habit of lying awake and worrying.
- Consider learning a relaxation technique to help you wind down in readiness for sleep.
- Avoid having any food or drink that contains caffeine after dinnertime. This includes coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate.
- Avoid recreational drugs as they can cause you to have broken and poor quality sleep.
- See your GP if self-help techniques dont increase your nightly sleep quota.
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How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need
Everyone feels better after a good nights rest. But now, thanks to a report from the National Sleep Foundation, you can aim for a targeted sleep number tailored to your age.
The foundation based its report on two years of research andbreaks it down into nine age-specific categories, with a slight range thatallows for individual preference:
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.
- Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours.
- School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.
- Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours.
- Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours.
- Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.
- Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.
Dr. Walia says theres evidence that genetic, behavioral and environmental factors help determine how much sleep an individual needs for their best health and daily performance.
But a minimum of seven hours of sleep is a step in the rightdirection to improve your health, she says.
Being Sleepy Makes It Harder To Learn And Disrupts Short
Sleepiness has long been a problem for students. Delaying school start times an hour for middle-school kids has been found to significantly increase standardized test scores, and it may have an even bigger effect on teens, who naturally tend to be night owls.
But it’s not just kids sleep deprivation also wrecks adults’ short-term memory. Several studies have found that sleep-deprived adults have more difficulty remembering words they’ve learned and have a harder time improving newly learned skills.
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What About Too Much Sleep
So far, weve established two things: Sleep is essential, and going without sleep can eventually cause some pretty nasty side effects.
But it may surprise you to learn you actually can have too much of a good thing. While sleeping too much usually isnt life threatening, its been associated with a higher mortality rate.
Chronic oversleeping can also cause:
- cognitive impairment, including problems with reasoning and speaking
- daytime drowsiness
- feelings of depression or low mood
- trouble falling or staying asleep
A 2014 study of 24,671 adults found evidence to link sleeping more than 10 hours a night, or long sleeping, to depression and obesity. Long sleeping has also been associated with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Disrupted Sleep Cycles Lead To More Inflammation Which Could Worsen Asthma Arthritis And Cardiovascular Disease
Our sleep cycle or body clock doesn’t just determine when we’re tired or awake it also affects the function of every cell in our body. Researchers have started to figure out how disruptions in sleep schedules prevent cells from fighting inflammation, which could explain why tired people often have many problems from inflammatory conditions, including asthma, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular disease.
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How Long Can You Go Without Sleep
For a science fair project in 1965, Randy Gardner set the world record by going 264 hours â roughly 11 days â without sleep. This resulted in significant declines in his concentration, motivation, perception, and higher-level mental processes. A 2017 NPR interview with Gardner revealed signs of nausea on the third morning of the experiment. Most worryingly, he complained of memory loss which felt like âan early Alzheimer’s thing brought on by lack of sleep.â In other words, the human body isnât made to withstand sleep deprivation to any degree.
Dr. Mark Rosekind â a former Director of Stanford Universityâs Sleep Center and current sleep science advisor to Rise Science â explains that sleep is as vital as air, food, and water. A lack in any of these basic essentials is akin to a death sentence. The same goes for sleep.
And it doesnât take 11 days without sleep to start experiencing negative effects. In Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, he points out, “The recycle rate of a human being is around 16 hours. After 16 hours of being awake, the brain begins to fail.” So that means after being awake from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., for example, youâre already starting to experience cognitive impairment.
So, letâs look at what happens if you go 1-3 days without sleep.
Heart Disease Risk Rises With Sleep Deprivation
There’s plenty of evidence that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the heart. When researchers kept people awake for 88 hours, their blood pressure went up . Even participants who were allowed to sleep for four hours a night showed an elevated heart rate when compared with those who got eight hours. Concentrations of C-reactive protein, a marker of heart-disease risk, also increase in people who are fully or partially deprived of sleep.
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How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Need
The amount of sleep a person needs depends on many things, including their age. In general:
- Infants need 14-17 hours a day.
- Infants need 12-15 hours a day
- Toddlers need about 11-14 hours a day.
- Preschool children need 10-13 hours a day.
- School-age children need 9-11 hours a day.
- Teenagers need about 8-10 hours each day.
- Most adults need 7 to 9 hours, although some people may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.
- Older adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each day.
- Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual.
But experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven’t had enough sleep.
Drive Alert And Stay Unhurt
Learn the risks of drowsy driving and how to protect yourself.
Drowsy driving is a major problem in the United States. The risk, danger, and sometimes tragic results of drowsy driving are alarming. Drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. This usually happens when a driver has not slept enough, but it can also happen due to untreated sleep disorders, medications, drinking alcohol, and shift work.
What Happens With Acute Sleep Debt
So, what are the effects of acute sleep debt? According to the Journal of Nature and Science of Sleep, short-term sleep loss comes with:
- Immediate changes to your metabolism, in which less leptin and more ghrelin increase your appetite
- More intense morning sleep inertia, i.e., you feel groggier upon rousing
- More severe daytime sleepiness
- Poorer mental health â think greater stress, anxiety, and depression
- Physical and physiological effects, such as a higher frequency of headaches and abdominal discomfort
- Negative emotions, including irritability and impatience
- Impaired work productivity and school performance
- Reduced cognition, in terms of attention, memory formation, decision-making, and judgment
- Heightened risk-taking behavior, such as illicit drug use and drunk driving