Sleep Loss: It’s More Harmful Than You Think
Raise your hand if you got 8 hours of sleep last night. Oh, you didn’t? Well, join the club because according to research, only 7% of Americans get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. And we all have our excuses.
If you’re like me, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day…9:00 turns into 10:30, and the next thing you know it’s midnight. After a long day at work, running errands, cooking dinner, exercising and doing chores, I just want some down-time to relax. A little time to catch up on my favorite recorded shows, surf the web or read a book seems to be in order.
But when it comes to calling it a night, I seem to totally lack self-control. There’s a line in the sand— if I stay up past 11pm, I tend to get a second wind which makes it even harder to slow down. And I always regret it in the morning when I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over by a train, pushing the snooze button again, and again, and again. (The worst part is, I know how detrimental lack of sleep can be to your health. I’ve researched it, blogged about it, marketed solutions for it, and yet I don’t often heed my own warning!)
So, the goal of this blog is convince myself (and you) to get serious about sleep – stop making excuses and make it a priority.
I’ll start with the scare tactics first.
SLEEP LOSS CAN KILL YOU!
No, really. Check out these shocking statistics:
- Less sleep doubles the risk of breast cancer.
- You’re 100% more likely to have a heart attack if you get less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
- Sleeping 1 more hour each day instead of watching TV can result in losing 14.3 lbs per year.
- And, the kicker…sleep deprivation makes you 20% more likely to be dead in 20 years.
In fact, sleep deprivation is so dangerous that the Guinness Book of World Records no longer tracks the longest period without sleep because it’s just too risky.
Now that I’ve gotten your attention…
It’s time to think about why you’re not getting enough sleep.
If you’re just getting distracted and losing track of time, do what your mother did. Give yourself a bed time – maybe even set a “go to sleep” alarm to remind you.
If you’re under 40, you probably have less trouble getting quality sleep throughout the night, but it’s been proven that sleep quality decreases with age. For those who struggle with sleep, there seem to be two camps— and some people who are, unfortunately, in both. There are those who can’t fall asleep and those who can’t stay asleep.
There are lots of reasons why it can be hard to fall asleep. Stress and adrenal exhaustion (remember that second wind I mentioned earlier) often have a lot to do with it. But there are a few simple strategies you can try to fall asleep faster (and stay asleep).
3 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
Technology is an issue that interferes with sleep. Most of us watch TV, use a computer, cell phone, iPad or Kindle within an hour of bedtime. The blue light emitted from these gadgets can suppress melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm. Try unplugging an hour before your bedtime and read a book, listen to relaxing music or take a hot bath. All of these activities will begin to calm the mind. Also, you may want to consider taking a Melatonin supplement to help regulate your body’s sleep-to-wake cycle and get you back in rhythm.
Something I’ve found that not only puts me to sleep almost instantly, but helps me sleep more soundly throughout the night is an Earthing wristband. If you haven’t heard of Earthing, it’s definitely something to look into. By plugging into your home’s grounded wire outlet, you can literally sleep grounded to the Earth. This neutralizes all of the stray voltage in your home that’s keeping you charged up and on edge.
I was skeptical at first, but I have to say that it really works! When I’m “plugged in” I dream more vividly, and sleep much more soundly and deeply all night long.
Still Not Sleeping Through the Night?
If you’re in bed for more than 8 hours and just can’t get quality sleep night after night, there’s probably something else going on. There are a myriad of underlying issues that can affect sleep—for women going through ‘the change’, it may be hormone related; for men, it may be prostate related. In some cases, you may even suffer from a sleep disorder.
Regardless, it’s really important to get to the bottom of whatever it is that’s keeping you awake. Look for patterns, investigate your suspicions and consider consulting your health care practitioner.
For those of us with no excuses…GO TO BED already!