Importance of A Good Night’s Sleep
If you are having trouble sleeping at night, you need to deal with the problem causing the sleep-related issue as soon as you can. This is because sleeping is important for the overall functioning of your body. When you are not getting adequate sleep, you will find yourself suffering from other health issues that will affect how you live your life.
Experts recommend at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, which becomes impossible when you have something interrupting it. The recommended hours of sleep give your body adequate rest while allowing other body functions to happen when you have shut down. When you are awake, many activities are taking place. Your mind is receiving information, your muscles are in use and you are eating every other time.
Sleep allows some of your body systems time to rest, and others to work without interruption. You stand to gain the following benefits that lead to good health when you are getting adequate sleep.
- Improved brain function
Adequate sleep ensures that the brain functions at its best always. While you rest, your brain carries out the consolidation process, which is vital and leads to strengthening of the memory. This process makes it easy to learn a new skill. Brain functions that support cognition, concentration and even performance become better with adequate sleep. When you are sleep-deprived because of sleep-related disorders, you are bound to make mistakes. Such mistakes can endanger your life and that of others such as when you cause an accident.
- Better digestion
While you sleep, your digestive system gets time to process the ingested food. The system works well as you rest as it has time to process the food in the system without interruption. As you are not eating while you sleep, the body gets to clear the food. When you do not give the body time to do this, the risk of getting inflammatory disorders of the stomach is high. Such disorders get worse or recur after treatment if you get few hours of sleep every night.
- Improved cardiac function
Adequate sleep helps to minimize the presence of inflammatory proteins in the blood. These inflammatory proteins cause heart diseases that can lead to heart attacks and high blood pressure. Studies indicate that less than seven hours of sleep increases the risk of heart attacks. The only way to avoid this is to ensure adequate sleep. This can become hard when you are battling sleep disorders of any type such as restless legs syndrome (RLS).
- Lower incidence of diseases
You will have a stronger immune system when you sleep well. This means that you will have lower risk of getting diseases such as the common cold. Suffering from sleep disorders hinders your body’s ability to fight diseases. The significant boost of the immune system function through adequate sleep sees you enjoy a good quality of life with minimal disruptions to your lifestyle due to poor health. You also have better management of your blood sugar levels, thus keeping diseases such as Type 2 diabetes at bay. Studies also show that getting good sleep helps patients have a better handle on arthritis. You even maintain young looks for longer.
- Maintenance of healthy body weight
Sleep supports the function of the body that regulates hormones. Some of the hormones regulated include those that affect appetite. When your body gets enough rest, the levels of hormones that increase the desire for food are at healthy levels, and so are those for the hormones that suppress appetite. When the body gets only a few hours of sleep, the body has increased levels of appetite-stimulating hormones, which increase your chances of being obese. On the same note, by sleeping well while on diet, you see increased loss of fat as opposed to loss of muscle mass when you’re not getting enough sleep.
- Improved mental health
Sleep deprivation due to sleeping disorders does not go well for those with mental health issues. Studies show that stress levels are high when the body does not get enough rest. People who suffer from conditions such as depression, ADHD and such other issues see their situations worsen when they do not get enough sleep. Even if you do not suffer from any mental issues, you will have better social interactions when you sleep well as you have improved the ability to read emotions better. Sleep, therefore, is an important factor and when sleep disorders disrupt it, you are open to many risks, which affect various areas of your life. You will be more productive at work, school and even during your leisure activities when you sleep well. To this end, you need to deal effectively with any sleep-related disorder that you may be dealing with. Sleep disorders come in many forms, and each affects people differently, so you can expect to have a different experience from another person suffering from the same disorder. It is good to get an early diagnosis with regard to the type of problem you may be having. Diagnosing a sleep disorder happens through the presented symptoms. Some disorders, however, may need the observation of another party for effective diagnosis. Each sleeping disorder affects sleep in different ways. While some such as insomnia and RLS affect your ability to fall asleep or maintain the sleep state, others like sleep apnea affect the brain’s ability to go into deep sleep. For apnea and such similar disorders, the brain is in partial sleep, thereby limiting its ability to get into the deep sleep phase which is crucial for processes such as consolidation. Since the diagnosis of sleep disorders is not laboratory-based, you need to be alert to the signs that point to your body not getting enough sleep. If you notice some of the following signs of sleep deprivation, you need to get help to prevent the lack of adequate rest disrupting your life.
- Difficulty in falling asleep at night
If each time you get to bed you take a long time before falling asleep, then you may be having a sleep disorder. Insomnia is one such disorder where you lay awake for long periods without any sign of falling asleep. Sometimes you may fall asleep but wake up in the middle of the night and face the same difficulty of falling asleep. With RLS, you may be unable to fall asleep because of the unsettling sensation in your legs that makes you want to move your legs. This overwhelming sensation is sure to keep you up for a long time after going to bed.
- Waking up to the feeling that you are not well rested
When you are not getting adequate sleep, you will wake up not well rested. You are supposed to wake up refreshed each morning. If you do not feel restored, then your quality of sleep is not good. After a few nights of getting a few hours of sleep, you can be sure that you will not be feeling great. The brain requires getting into phases of deep rest in order to refresh. Sleep disorders prevent you from getting this deep rest. The few hours of sleep that insomnia, RLS, and other sleep disorders allow will only leave you feeling like you have cobwebs in the head.
- Daytime sleepiness
When you do not sleep at night, you can be sure that your body will want to catch up with its sleep during the daytime. You will thus find yourself dozing at the most inopportune moments. The irony of these sleep disorders is that once night comes, you are still not able to sleep. RLS happens during a position of rest, so you will struggle with sleep when you are busy with other things. When you notice increased daytime fatigue, you should check on how well you are sleeping at night. Make sure you time how many hours of sleep you are getting each night.
- Feeling lethargic
Sleep allows your body to rest in order for it to replenish its energy. When you are not sleeping well, you will suffer from low energy. You will feel lethargic and unable to catch up with your activities. Sleep disorders are draining as they hinder your cells from reenergizing. You will thus start the day low and may require energy drinks and a lot of coffee in order to make it through the day. Relying on coffee and other energy drinks also disrupt your ability to sleep, thus making the condition worse. A few days of this and you will see your sleep patterns become less and less normal.
- Mood and behavior changes
You will notice that children become cranky when they do not get adequate rest. The same applies to you. You will see changes in your behavior and moods, and in the worse way possible. You are irritable all the time and the slightest things can set you off. You are also very aggressive, which can see you getting into trouble all the time. You will work on impulse most of the time as your brain has limited ability to think clearly. When you notice mood and behavior changes, you need to check your sleep patterns as they indicate whether you have a sleeping disorder or not.
- Lack of concentration
Lack of sleep impairs your concentration level. Your brain carries out complex processes and most of these happen when you are asleep. When you are not sleeping as well as you should, these processes do not take place and thus you will have impaired brain function. You will find it hard to focus on the activities at hand. You will also find that you forget things and are absent-minded half the time. Sleep disorders are not good for your brain and will affect you in major ways. You can imagine how unproductive you will be when your brain does not work as it should.
- Low performance at work or school
The mind contributes a lot to your abilities at work and even at school. When you sleep, your brain works to consolidate what you have learned during the day. This ability allows you to learn new skills and things. When you do not sleep well, you will notice poor performance at work and at school. Poor performance and unproductivity are linked to lack of concentration, impaired ability to think and poor memory. Sleep disorders will, therefore, affect your life in different ways, and it is usually not for the best. When they disrupt your ability to sleep, you can be sure that you will see a major difference in your work.
- Troubled relationships
Lack of sleep impairs your relationships, both professional and personal. The mood and behavior changes are sure to place a wedge between you and people with whom you interact. Irritability, aggressive behavior and anger are not good ingredients for creating great relationships. Lack of sleep impairs the ability to read emotions right, thus making it hard to read the emotions others present. You will therefore not react according to the presented emotions, which may make you seem insensitive to others. This would not be good for any healthy relationship. Try to see if getting good sleep will improve the quality of the relationships that you have.
- More accident proneness
Accidents in the workplace are bound to happen more when you are not getting enough rest. Impaired brain function will affect how you handle tasks that require machine operation. The accidents can arise from the poor ability to concentrate. They can also stem from an impaired ability to carry out tasks due to slow reflexes, and poor ability to use the skills required to operate complex machinery. You can even cause accidents when you doze off while in the middle of the task. Sleep disorders, therefore, place you at risk, especially where you need full alertness to operate machines. Driving also becomes hard with chances of causing yourself and others serious injuries or worse, death.
Sleep disorders can really contribute to increased stress and depression. The lack of sleep disrupts your mind, therefore contributing a lot to your emotional state. You will feel more despondent as you struggle with your lack of sleep. Combine that with mood swings and you will have a recipe for a depressing time. Better sleeping patterns allow for more emotional stability and help to reduce anxiety levels as well. If you notice changes in your emotional state, you need to seek help, especially when you are not getting enough sleep. It is important to know that sleep disorders affect each person in a different way. However, by knowing the signs to look for that point to the presence of such disorders, you have a chance of getting a diagnosis that will help you get the right treatment. Some sleep disorders such as RLS and sleep apnea have specific symptoms, which make it easy to diagnose. With RLS, you will feel the overwhelming sensation on your legs which some describe as burning, while others feel an itch. Sleep apnea interferes with your breathing, thus leading to respiratory difficulties, which are easy to diagnose. Keeping a log of the difficulties that you are facing during your bedtimes enables your doctor to give you the right diagnosis. If you notice any changes with your sleeping patterns, then you should start working on finding a solution. The good news is that it is possible to find solutions for your sleeping problems. Knowing what you can do is the first step of finding the solution that will work for you. The following tips will help you to enjoy better sleep, especially if you are suffering from any sleeping disorder. You will end up getting a good night’s sleep that will, in turn, translate to a better quality of life. Remember the best amount of sleep recommended is between 7 to 8 hours. This comes with a guarantee that you will feel rested and more energized the following morning.
- Seek professional help
When you suspect that you have a sleep disorder, you should seek the services of your doctor. Getting your condition evaluated ensures that you get a correct diagnosis. You may think you have a sleep disorder when all you have is a temporary condition. On the other hand, you could also be having a sleep disorder but you are not aware of it. Seeking professional help allows you to know what the problem is. A lot happens in the creation of a sleep disorder. A professional will help you determine the source of the sleep disorder. For example, RLS can be due to a number of reasons, which classify under primary or secondary factors. A professional will help you find out the right reason and give you a line of treatment that is effective to deal with your condition. By working with a professional, it means that you will not be basing your treatment on guesswork. You will have someone to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment if necessary. You can find a sleep clinic that deals specifically with sleep disorders. Your choice of clinic is vital as it will dictate the experience that you will have. The best clinic is one that has experts who are knowledgeable about your type of problem. Such will have an understanding of your symptoms and know what each point too. The best clinic will also have the ability to carry out a diagnosis. The experts will know the right tests to administer that will point out the problem effectively. Moreover, the best clinic will provide solutions that will work. You will see the difference in your sleeping patterns with the treatment they give. Even if you suffer from a chronic condition, you should be able to manage it better with the treatment you get.
- Make time for adequate sleep
Sleeping problems may arise because you are not creating enough time for sleep. You could be having so much on your daily schedule that you do not have time for adequate rest. Rising early and going to bed late gives you little time for sleeping. With time, even your body gets used to this schedule and getting it to sleep during normal hours becomes a problem. Even if you are a busy professional or student, being smart about how you work will see you place quality over quantity. The brain needs rest in order to give you better performance. By not sleeping for the right number of hours, you will counter your efforts no matter how many hours you put into work. You should plan your schedule well in order to do a lot within a given period, but still be more productive than when you put in many hours. Planning your day should see you prioritize your activities. You should tackle what you need to do for the day and schedule other matters for a later date. Even if you are working on a deadline, it is possible to produce your work within this deadline and do a good job while at it, and still get enough sleep. You should begin your day with a clear plan of what you need to do and start from there. While scheduling your day, timing is important. You should work out how much time you need to carry out a certain task and place it in your schedule. As you schedule your time, you should give sleep the required 7 to 8 hours. Therefore, as you plan when you need to be up and ready to leave for the office, you should set aside seven to eight hours before to cover the time your body needs to replenish. Habits such as procrastination and taking longer than is necessary to complete tasks cause the unnecessary delays that can eat up the time you have to get rest.
- Develop a sleep routine that you will stick to
The body will adjust itself to the routine that you expose it to. If you have a poor sleep routine, then you can be sure that your body is already used to it by now. However, with commitment, it is possible to develop a routine that is healthy for your body. You will better manage sleep disorders when you are able to make changes to counter them. For example, RLS happens when you lie on your bed for long periods. You can counter this by only going to bed when you feel sleepy enough to do so. If you get to bed and start watching a video, you can be sure that you are stimulating your brain to be active and not go to sleep. Lying for long in that restful state will trigger the restlessness in your legs and you will now have a real reason for not getting any sleep. The best routine is one that prepares your body for sleep. You should, therefore, concentrate on things that make it easy for you to fall asleep. Taking fluids before bedtime may see you have to wake up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself. You should, therefore, ensure that you do not take fluids just before you go to bed. Taking coffee and other energy drinks in the late hours will also hinder your ability to sleep. Having a sleep routine allows your body to know that it is time to sleep. When you follow this routine diligently, you will have an easier time falling asleep. If you are not sure of where you are going wrong with your sleep routine, you can discuss your current routine with your doctor. The expert will also help you to come up with a more effective routine that is best for you.
- Create the best environment conducive to good sleep
A well-lit room with loud noise in the background will not help you sleep. You might just fall asleep, but your brain will not be getting the required rest. It will be processing the noise happening in the background. You can try this by falling asleep with the radio on. You will most likely have dreams that incorporate the music you are hearing in your sleep. This will affect the quality of sleep that you are getting. The ideal sleeping environment is quiet and dark. Even if you are afraid of the dark, you can use soft low lights to provide the darkened space you need to sleep. Go for a room that is away from a noisy street or neighborhood. If you do not have the luxury of choice, be sure to incorporate noise-muting methods such as having quality windows that block out the street noise. You can also use heavy drapes that block out the noise and light coming into the room. Apart from the drapes, you should choose a quality bed and mattress that will provide a comfortable sleeping surface. A comfortable mattress will not cause any discomfort that will disrupt your sleep or make it hard for you to sleep. A creaky and unsteady bed will affect your quality of sleep. You will find that the right sleeping environment will entice you to fall asleep. You can be sure that sinking into comfortable bedding after a long day on your feet will have you sleeping away in no time. It will encourage your body to shut down even if you suffer from severe insomnia.
- Use other alternative ways to fight the lack of sleep
Even as you get treatment for your sleeping disorder, you can still use other alternative methods to manage the sleeping disorder. You can, for example, find out about the methods that people used long ago before the onset of modern medicine. Some of the methods are effective and a great substitute, especially when you are not enthusiastic about taking medication for prolonged periods. Breathing exercises that allow you to relax and therefore fall asleep are helpful. You can also use calming recordings to lull you to sleep. You can find out more about other alternatives that you can use through online resources. Your doctor may also have an option you can use as well. You may term some methods of managing sleep disorders as sketchy, but trying them might just work for you. In conclusion, sleep disorders deprive patients of their sleep, which is not a good thing for their health. Sleeping is important for vital body processes to take place. When deprived of this sleep due to sleep disorders, the body fails to function as it should. There is a risk of impaired brain activities, thus increasing the chances of decreased cognition, concentration and productivity. You will suffer decreased performance as well. In addition, you face higher risks of obesity and decreased the ability to lose weight. Moreover, changes in behavior and moods affect professional and social relationships. You will also be at risk of developing illnesses such as heart diseases and having an ineffective digestive system. With such extensive effects of these sleep disorders, dealing with them is essential. The best way to deal with the sleep disorders is to get a professional diagnosis. With so many different types of sleep disorders, the input of a professional is important to get a solution. You will get an accurate identification of the problem that you have. From there, it becomes easier to get an effective solution.You also need to do a few things that will help you manage the conditions effectively. Scheduling the right amount of time to sleep allows you to lead a more productive life even with a busy schedule. Developing a bedtime routine that encourages sleep is another way to manage the sleep deprivation as well. Lastly, you should create the ideal sleeping environment that will see you fall asleep more easily.While sleep disorders can cause issues in your life, taking a proactive approach towards managing them allows you to get a better handle on the situation. You will thus not have to deal with the severe effects of the condition that you are facing.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic