Sleep deprivation is an issue affecting millions of people across the globe. We consistently put work and school priorities over our bodies’ most essential activity. And most of us are so used to being sleep deprived that we remain oblivious to how impaired we really are.
In actuality, long-term sleep deprivation can wreck both physical and mental health. Here are just a few reasons why you should always try to hit the hay for the right amount of time:
Stroke risk quadruples: Research suggests that getting fewer than six hours a night can elevate stroke risk for middle and older-aged people.
Heart disease risk increases: Harvard Health Publications reports that chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (or cholesterol-clogged arteries), heart failure and heart attack.
More likely to catch a cold: Proper rest is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In fact, one Carnegie Mellon University study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night was associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold.
More likely to have an accident: Getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night triples your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsydriving.org.
Less focused and memory problems: Can’t remember where you placed your cell phone? Exhaustion may be to blame. In addition, exhaustion destroys the focus you’ll need to properly complete those important tasks at work.
– Penny Kokkinides
We all do it. After a long week of minimal sleep, we tell ourselves that we will “catch up” on our rest over the weekend and all will be back to normal. The extra hours of sleep on Saturday morning will surely recharge your exhausted body, right?
According to Women’s Health, this may actually do more harm than good. Clinical psychologist Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., says that sleeping extra to compensate for lost hours confuses your body’s natural clock. As a result, you may end up feeling even more fatigued, stressed, and worst of all – cranky!
When your sleep schedule gets out of whack, naps and caffeine become go-to fixes to make it through your long days, which confuses your body even more once bedtime rolls around.
Yes, juggling a social, work, and personal life is daunting and takes time away from your sleep schedule. But ensuring that you get at least 8 hours of sleep at night will make your hectic life feel much more manageable. These crucial hours of rest not only give you energy to take on the day, but they also keep your body in shape and your cognitive function in better condition!
An extra hour or two of sleep on the weekend isn’t going to hurt you, but try to stay as close to your normal sleeping pattern as you can. You can’t make up for countless hours of missed sleep, and having a “weekend-only” sleep schedule will only throw your body into a never-ending spiral of the “catch up” game.
So, when you’re watching Netflix later tonight, turn off the TV and go get some zzz’s. Your health is more important than catching up on one last episode.
It’s 9:30 P.M. and over the last couple of hours, you’ve spent your time walking the dog, eating dinner, tucking in the kids and watching your favorite TV show. You head to your bed to catch a good night’s sleep in anticipation for work the following day. Depending on how you feel, you might lay on your belly, your side or your back – but it’s not an overarching concern, as long as it’s a comfortable position.
But what’s the healthiest way to sleep? According to Yahoo Health, research conducted by Stony Brook University found that a side-sleeping position improves waste clearance from the brain, which could prevent Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegenerative diseases.
The brain’s cleansing system, the glymphatic system, is most active during sleep. In regards to amyloid beta and tau proteins, which contribute to neurological diseases, it was found that rodents who slept on their sides cleared amyloid beta about 25 percent better than those who slept on their backs or bellies. Additionally, this position also encouraged the flow of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain, which helps in its cleansing.
In order to get the glymphatic system started, an adequate amount of sleep is needed. Therefore it’s imperative that we hit the seven-eight hour mark every night. So if you still prefer to sleep on your belly or back, focus on your hours of sleep!
With the spring days growing longer, and the sun staying up later, The Cleveland Clinic Health Hub has come up with a few ideas to avoid the grogginess that can come with adapting to these extended days. If you’re still moving a little slowly, give these a try and let me know how they work:
- Prepare early.
Instead of gradually moving into your sleep cycle, try going to bed 30 minutes early, in order to get closer to a full eight hours of sleep. This will prevent your morning woes when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m.
- Wake up early.
According to sleep specialist Harneet Walia, MD, waking up early to the brighter spring sunlight can help you adjust to the time change and wake up feeling energized.
- Don’t take naps.
Dr. Walia says avoiding naps is key for the time change. If a nap is necessary, try to keep it under 20 minutes, so you can still get a full night’s sleep in the evening.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol.
Skip the after-dinner coffee or hot caffeinated tea four to six hours before bedtime. Alcohol can also prohibit you from getting the sleep you need, so it’s better to avoid it late at night as well, if you’re having trouble dozing off. Alcohol can also cause nightmares and breathing problems.