More people these days are sleeping less and experiencing poor sleep quality. Getting a good night’s rest is just as important as exercising and eating healthy.

What Happens if a Person Lacks Sleep?
There are several adverse side effects that come with insomnia or lack of rest.

  • Sleeping for only a few hours a night can lead to weight gain. People who sleep well tend to eat fewer calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts appetite hormones and can cause poor appetite regulation.
  • Lack of sleep can negatively impact the brain similar to alcohol intoxication. Good sleep can improve brain function including concentration, productivity, cognition, and performance.
  • A study done on over 2,000 women found that sleep deprivation was linked to lower grip strength, slower walking pace, and difficulty performing daily activities independently. Sleep can enhance athletic performance by improving mental well-being, accuracy, speed, and reaction times.
  • When it comes to your health, poor sleepers increase their risk of heart disease, chronic disease, and stroke. Sleep restriction can affect glucose metabolism, type 2 diabetes, reduces insulin sensitivity, and affects blood sugar.
  • Research has shown that those who get less than six hours of sleep per night show high blood levels of inflammatory proteins. Inflammation is directly linked to premature aging, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

How to Get the Best Night’s Sleep and Wake Up Feeling Refreshed
Sleep plays a vital role in well-being throughout your life. There are many ways to ensure you will get the best night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Below are some of the most effective ways to do it:

  • The first is to make breakfast your most substantial and important meal of the day. People tend to sleep better when they eat a lighter dinner at the end of the day. The more food you consume, the harder your body has to work to digest it.
  • Refrain from caffeine in the early afternoon. Sources of caffeine include chocolate, tea, coffee, soda, and some medications.
  • Reset your wake-sleep cycle by getting some sun during the day. Your body will get used to being awake when the sun comes up and fatigued when the sun goes down.
  • Exercise is important when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. Try to do it early in the morning to prevent the invigorating effects it can give you at night. A study has shown that people who take brisk walks regularly are 1/3 less likely to have problems sleeping.
  • Take a nap daily if you can. A simple 15-minute nap can help you feel alert during the day without causing you to become restless at night.
  • Never force yourself to go to sleep at night. If you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, leave the bedroom. Read a good book, meditate, or sit in a chair and think pleasant thoughts. Continue these activities until you feel like you are ready for sleep.
  • Instead of taking sleeping pills which can be dangerously addictive, stick to an herbal soother. Chamomile is an herb that does not contain caffeine and is widely used to help people sleep. The best time to drink chamomile tea is within 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that is even safe for children. It can help reset the body’s internal clock. It is recommended that you take one dose of melatonin within three hours of bedtime.

Some other helpful tips include:

  • Practice waking up at the same time everyday even on the weekends. Following a sleeping routine conditions your body into waking and sleeping with less effort.
  • Place a pillow under your knees to help relieve lower-back pressure. Give yourself enough room to stretch your arms and legs during the night. Sleeping in a comfortable position increases the quality of sleep and will make your feel more refreshed in the morning.
  • Say no to late-night television and avoid alcohol before bedtime. Watching TV doesn’t relax your mind before sleeping. And although you may think alcohol will bring you to sleep, it actually lowers the quality of your sleep and it makes waking up more difficult.
  • Sleep with the lights switched off and then expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. Trying to sleep in the dark puts your brain into a more relaxed state making it easier for you to fall asleep. While the sunlight triggers your body to wake up.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Sarah Vidumsky, PA-C