Sleep gets surprisingly little attention considering the enormous role it plays in our lives. If you were to spend eight hours a night sleeping and lived for 75 years, you would spend 25 years asleep. That sounds like a lot, but consider all the things that can happen when you do not get enough sleep.
When human beings are sleep deprived, they can exhibit a number of symptoms. Among them are: impaired attention and alertness, decreased reasoning and problem solving, decreased sex drive, depression, wrinkles, forgetfulness, overeating, and impaired judgment.
Suffering from chronic sleep deprivation may also increase your risk of fibromyalgia, heart attack, heart failure, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even death from all causes.
Recent studies reveal that 40 percent of all Americans are getting five hours of sleep a night or less much less than the recommended seven to eight hours. Are you getting enough sleep?
If not, consider these ways that you can support your natural sleep cycle.
1. Protect your circadian rhythm with sunlight and darkness. Daylight is crucial to the process of synchronizing our internal clock, which controls the natural sleep rhythm of our bodies.
As a side note, if you happen to work the night shift, three years of that schedule has been linked to increasing your risk for developing diabetes by 20 percent.
2. Remember to account for 15-30 minutes extra at bedtime for you to spend falling asleep. You don’t fall asleep the instant your head hits the pillow, so if you are shooting for eight hours of sleep, go to bed half an hour earlier to give yourself the full time.
3. Get help with issues like sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea is related to your jaw or tongue position, you can obtain custom oral appliances from specialty trained dentists. These repositioning devices help support the proper positioning of the tongue and jaw. Oral myofunctional therapy may also help by re-patterning the facial and oral muscles.
4. Stay away from technology for 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Because television and computers emit a blue light, it causes your brain to become more alert, and prevents the normal secretion of melatonin, which is vital to quality, restorative sleep.
5. Keep your bedroom dark. Because our bodies are so sensitive to the presence of light, it is important to keep the shades down, or to consider using blackout drapes and/or an eye mask. Any presence of light can disrupt the natural body clock.
6. Keep things cool. The optimal sleep temperature of your bedroom should be below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, taking a hot bath and stepping out into a cool room can drop your core body temperature and signal that it is time for sleep.
7. If you must have a nightlight, use a yellow, orange, or red colored bulb. Some people need a light source for navigation at night. By using a bulb in this color spectrum, you cause less disruption to your body clock than a bulb that is in the blue or white bandwidth.
8. Put today’s technology to good use. Using apps on your smartphone like SleepBot or Sleep Cycle can help track your sleep, and even wake you up during the lightest phase of sleep, so it is the least disruptive.
Also, consider trying Jawbone’s UP3 fitness tracking wristband, which will become commercially available this year. It has a great sleep monitoring function that also provides analysis of your sleep pattern and how to improve it.
-The Alternative Daily