One thing I can not get enough of is sleep. The average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep a night. But in our stressed out, busy, fast paced culture sleep has become a luxury. Millions of people suffer from sleep problems.
Before the light bulb was invented adults slept on the average of 10 hours a night. But that has dropped significantly. A poll was conducted in 2002 that found that the average American gets fewer than 7 hours of sleep on a week night. These hours of lost sleep, called a sleep deficit, can not be made up on the weekends or holidays.
Compare a sleep debt to a financial debt. The longer you keep the debt the more it will grow and the harder it is to pay it off. This can wear your body out. Not enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, reduced immunity, daytime drowsieness, poor performance, traffic accidents, falls, memory problems, and cognitive impairment.
Have you ever been so stressed out that when you laid in bed you were wide awake and your brain was going a mile a minute? I've had several nights like the above. Sometimes it is hard to let go of all the worries from the day. This can keep you up and the longer you think about the past day and how much you want a good nights sleep the more anxious you become.
Sometimes you get so anxious that the only thing you believe will help you sleep is popping that forbidden sleeping pill. Many Americans take their, "just in case" sleeping pill every night. Some people fall into a trap. If they don't take their sleeping pill they have what is called, "rebound insomnia." This makes them worry even more about not being able to fall asleep. Which in turn causes them to take another round of pills. What else can you do to get a better night's sleep?
Here are a few great tips to help you get a better night's sleep.
1. Cut Down on the Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you up at night. Some people have a stronger reaction to caffeine than others. You could be sensitive to caffeine. The best way to find out is by decreasing your caffeine intake. If you usually drink 3 or more cups of coffee in the morning cut back to two. Don't drink any caffeinated beverages after 12pm. This includes, coffee, tea and soda. Don't switch to decaffeinated coffee. Coffee is known to trigger heart burn which can cause you to be awake at night.
2.Medications that can keep you up at night
There are several prescription and over the counter drugs that are known to cause sleeplessness. Beta blockers which are prescribed for high blood pressure or heart trouble may cause insomnia and nightmares. The osteoporosis medicine Actonel can interfere with sleep. Many antidepressants, such as Effexor, Prozac and Zoloft can also cause you to toss and turn at night.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Some people believe that a glass of wine or one beer is enough to relax them and help them sleep. In fact alcohol is known to do the exact opposite. Alcohol can effect your melatonin levels and may even cause you to wake up too early. If you are having trouble sleeping stay away from that evening cocktail.
Exercise is not only good for your physical health it is also a good stress reliever. Your level of anxiety will be a lot less if you take a walk, jog, or play an outdoor sport. It is best to exercise in the afternoon so you can get a little sun on your face. Light combined with exercise has been known to improve depression and insomnia. The sun exposure can also increase melatonin levels and prevent breast cancer in women.
5. Take a bath
A hot bath or shower at night can help you fall asleep. The trick is to take your bath about an hour before bedtime. A hot bath raises your core body temperature. When your body temperature drops it signals to your brain that it is "sleepy time." During the first part of a night's sleep your body temperature drops. Taking a bath an hour before you go to bed can trick your body into thinking that it is already asleep. This can help if you make it part of your bedtime ritual each night.
Relax and forget about the stresses at work, or lack of work, family problems, or whatever is keeping you up at night. Consider these five tips and I hope they help you get a better night's sleep.