Are you the type of person who is asleep faster than you can turn off the light? You think you sleep deeply but during the waking hours you find you can take naps anytime and anywhere? It may surprise you but that isn’t perfect sleep and it actually should act as a warning sign. When it doesn’t take you at least 10-15 minutes to fall asleep, your body is telling you you're overly exhausted and this could be a sign of a sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation is a term that has recently seen more use as the Center for Disease Control declared it a public epidemic in 2015. Sleep deprivation occurs when an individual fails to continually not get enough sleep and it can lead to a long list of issues including health problems. Sleep deprivation can occur for a number of reasons, it may be due to unintentional voluntary behavior, when you do not allow yourself time to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, it can be the result of work schedules and personal obligations or it can be due to an underlying medical sleep disorder or other health issues that disrupt sleep.
Life can be stressful. We are most often times surrounded in the 24 hour, go, go, go societal mentality. We are an overstimulated generation and are often quick to dismiss the importance of sleep when other things seem more important. We think only of prioritizing sleep as catching extra zzz’s on the weekend or when time away from our everyday life allows it. This is a way of thinking that could cost you a much bigger debt than you realize. Your sleep should play an important role in your day to day lifestyle choices, not only because it gives you energy throughout the day but helps you focus, improves your mood, helps to prevent the onset of health issues that could lead to medical problems down the road but most importantly improves your overall quality of life.
There is no such thing as the perfect sleep but finding the amount you need to feel rested helps you enjoy the days you have and is a step in the right direction to managing your health. It is important to remember when it comes to sleep, it’s not just quantity that matters but the quality. How you feel during your waking hours weighs greatly on how well you sleep. Similarly, the cure for daytime fatigue and sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference on the quality of your nightly rest.
You can get closer to finding your ideal sleep plan by taking into account the following beyond the baseline guidelines often suggested:
-Assess your sleep environment- A full assessment that goes beyond temperature and darkness to include clothing, color and adding plants to filter air and oxygenate your bedroom.
-Assess the amount of natural light you take in during the day- Ideally taking in 15 minutes in the morning and an additional 15 minutes during the lunch hour, especially if you work in an office with no windows.
-Limit the amount of artificial light- Offices are mostly lit with florescent lighting but there are steps you can take to prevent over-stimulation including the use of yellow lensed computer glasses during the day.
-Review your diet as there are foods that can promote good sleep but others that can cause issues.
-Get tested for nutritional deficiencies to make sure it is not the source of your sleep issues. - Up to 80% of the population is magnesium deficient and it can aid in not only helping with common sleep issues but with a long list of other health issues as well.
-Limit stimulants throughout the day- Not only alcohol, nicotine and coffee but soft drinks, chocolate and even some medications can contain it.
-Learn to be proactive about your health, addressing any sleep issues with your doctor and always addressing concerns with medications and researching how foods or drinks can interact adversely with them.
Soda Kuczkowski is the owner of START WITH SLEEP, an education resource center and retail boutique that focuses on both behavioral and medical sleep health located in Buffalo, NY. She is also the founder of the SE+T™ Sleep Program, a guide for improving sleep quality naturally. She is committed to addressing sleep concerns and questions by providing sleep health education through a channel of various components including sleep consulting, coaching, workshops and health programs.