Between 50 and 70 million adults in the U.S. alone have some type of sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With a multitude of adverse health effects, insufficient shut-eye is an important public health concern.
Sleep deprivation affects your overall health more severely than simply feeling grumpy in the mornings; you gain weight; your learning and problem-solving abilities suffer; you have trouble forming memories; and you’re at risk of developing depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts.
Lack of sleep can become a disorder if you have problems concentrating and you are falling asleep at work which can lead to causing accidents on the job.
Your body doesn’t have to be in a chronic state of producing less melatonin, the hormone and antioxidant secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm. Don’t set yourself up for a bad night of sleep.
Sleepless nights are no fun, but the next day is even worse. If you’ve had issues getting to sleep or staying asleep, the root of the problem may lie in your habits—are you damaging your sleep quality?
Too much screen time before bed is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Televisions emit blue light, which affects the levels of the sleep-inducing melatonin more than any other wavelength, Dr. Karl Doghramji, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, says. Another problem is what you’re watching. Chances are a movie or a late show that you find will be more stimulating than relaxing, keeping you awake.
Alcohol is eliminated from the body rapidly and causes withdrawal symptoms two or three hours later, Dr. Doghramji says, which has a negative reaction. “You wake up very often but very briefly, and you don't even remember,” he adds. Studies have shown that in healthy people, acute high alcohol doses disturb sleep, whereas in insomniacs, lower doses may be beneficial. People fall asleep quicker after drinking, but alcohol reduces rapid eye movement. REM sleep is when we dream and actually rest.
A study has shown how the body temperature naturally dips at night, beginning about two hours before sleep, reaching its lowest point around 4 a.m. That’s why artificially raising your temperature by taking a bath, hot shower, or going into a sauna right before it’s Zzz time may prevent you from dozing off. The drop in temperature is a signal to the body that it’s time to sleep.
You’ve probably suffered through a sleepless summer night where it was just plain hot and uncomfortable. A room that’s too warm can be an issue even in the winter. Just a few degrees can mean the difference between a relaxing sleep and tossing and turning all night. In a study, wearing a cooling cap helped insomniacs snooze almost as well as people without sleep problems.
Quick power naps, which may be a secret to living a long, happy life, can make you more alert. Napping during the day is especially beneficial to people who work in shift, according to Dr. Doghramji. The best kind of nap is 20-30 minutes long and taken around the same time during the day, he adds. Avoid extended naps after 4 p.m. because they can mess with your ability to fall asleep later .