Falling to sleep sounds easy enough, and yet each night seventy million Americans have trouble getting the sleep they need. These sleep deprived individuals struggle to get to sleep and the next day they fight to stay awake. They fall into a vicious no-sleep cycle; a cycle that reduces their productivity and creates emotional problems in the workplace and at home. Sleep deprived individuals get more and more tired and have more and more trouble falling asleep as they worry about getting enough sleep. Does this sound familiar?
Catching Some ZZZZs
And Getting the Sleep You Need
by Justin Tyme
According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports and released in March of 1997, 50% of men and 66% of women "frequently had problems getting a good night's sleep."
Everyone needs sleep. Sleep helps the body recharge its physical and mental batteries that are drained during the day. When our bodies get less sleep than needed, we become "dull, depressed and irritable." Proper amounts of sleep help our memory and help us learn.
In the Consumer Reports survey, more than half of the respondents said that they had trouble sleeping three or more times a week. Twelve per cent said that trouble sleeping was almost a daily occurence and half of the people admitted that they had suffered from sleep problems for two years or more.
In our hectic world many people try to cram more than twenty-four hours into each day. To accomplish more, some people cut their sleep time. This is counter-productive. As we get less sleep, we accomplish less. So, many people are choosing the wrong solution to help them cope with a busy social and work schedule. They should be sleeping more. As people get less and less sleep they become more tense. They suffer from stress. Some experience headaches and other body pains as their bodies grows more tired.
"Scientests are finding that skimping on slumber plays havoc with important hormones, possibly harming brain cells, depleting the immune systems and promoting the growth of fat instead of muscle . . . There is also concern that sleep deprivation may speed up the aging process."
-- Ronald Kotulak writing in the Chicago Tribune's article, Rsearchers: Lack of sleep may cause aging, stress, flab
Most adults need eight hours sleep each night and yet, 43% or the survey respondents reported that they only slept about six hours a night. With so many people not getting a proper amount of sleep it's easy to see why over 100,000 auto accidents a year can be traced to fatigue. Lack of sleep is dangerous. Proper amounts of sleep are benficial.
- Sleep needed by an average adult per night: 8 hours
- Sleep an average adult gets per night during the workweek: 6 hours, 57 minutes
- Sleep an average adult gets per night during the weekends: 7 hours, 31 minutes
Other sleep statistics
- Datime Sleepiness - 37% said sleepiness interfered with daily activities
- Naps - 38% reported taking at least one nap furing the past two work weeks
- Sleep aids - 27% reported using medication to help them sleep in the past year
-- Sources: National Sleep Foundation, University of Chicago, Harvard University based on a survey of more that 1,000 adults
With the right amount of sleep, life becomes easier. People are more energetic and daily problems are less stressful. Life's busy schedule is easier to cope with when we are rested. When stress is removed, normal sleep patterns are usually restored.
There is no one cure for sleep problems. Sometimes just believing that you have a remedy is cure enough. You have to find out what works for you. We have some tips that have worked for others with similar problems. You should be able to find something here that'll work for you.
Here are some suggestions to help you sleep better:
- Maintain a standard bedtime for each day.
- Set your alarm for the same time each day.
- Walk for ten minutes a day or take regular exercise each day.
- Set your thermostat for a comfortable bedroom temperature.
- Turn off the TV, radio and otherwise keep your bedroom quiet.
- Close your curtains/drapes and maintain a bedroom dark enough to sleep.
- Use only one thin pillow.
- Don't watch TV, eat or read in bed. Use your bed for sleep and sex.
- Sleep on your back or on your side, never on your stomach.
- Raise the headend of the bed one to two inches.
- Don't use illuminated bedside alarm clocks.
- Get up earlier.
- Take prescription medicines as directed, but only if required.
- Have a set pre-bedtime routine. Start relaxing as you go through your routine.
- Take a warm bath as part of your bedtime routine.
- When you go to bed, take a deep breath and just relax. Feel your muscles relax. Become one with your mattress.
- Once you're in bed focus on a pleasant experience and use it like a mantra. Use the same thoughts each night.
Here are some things to avoid before going to bed and sleep:
- Don't engage in any activities before bed that stimulate your body or your mind. For example, planning a big speech, watching a favorite TV program, or participating in a hobby activity.
- Don't exercise or walk before going to bed..
- Stay away from food and drinks that contain caffeine. Caffeine is present in many sodas, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and chocolate candy.
- Don't take a late afternoon or early evening nap. If you find yourself extremely tired in the afternoon, take a brisk walk, instead of a nap.
- Don't use drink alcohol within an hour or two of going to bed.
- Don't lie awake for more than half an hour. If you find yourself wide awake, do some other quiet activity away from the bed and bedroom. Go to bed only when you're relaxed and ready to sleep. Train yourself for sleeping.
Don't worry if it takes a while to get into a sleep routine. Routines take time. Think of it as a body building routine. You have to work up to it. You may need up to four weeks. Change takes time. Sleep on it.
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