You don’t need to have red eyes to know that you are getting less than adequate sleep. The signs are there. The confused mind, persistent headaches, the grainy eyes and fatigued body are all clear indications that you aren’t getting enough snooze time. And, despite, these clear indications, people still don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.
The lack of sleep is linked with several medical as well as non-medical problems such as vehicle accidents, industrial disasters and lack of performance in professional capacity. The medical problems include heart problems, low sex drive and depression. It can also affect your cognitive skills and decision making ability. The lack of sleep is linked with weight gain and obesity as well.
So, it is very important that you get necessary sleep. In this article, we will list bad habits that might be ruining your sleep. The article also lists some advice that can help you in correcting these bad habits as well.
Working for too long
The most common factor that hampers you from getting an adequate sleep is working too hard. It is often tied with the fact that working for a longer time means getting an early start in the morning and returning home late in the night. This problem is particularly severe for those who have to travel over longer distances to reach their offices. And, the lack of sleep can affect your capacity and ability to work in your office. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science journal has stated that getting sleep of around five hours could lead to memory problems. Also, the lack of sleep affects your ability to deal with stress. The University of Arkansas research has discovered that lack of sleep might make someone more likely to react emotionally when facing stress. So, in nutshell, the lack of sleep will affect your cognitive ability and to handle stress at the work, which are arguably two most important assets that makes you a good employee.
It would be stupid to suggest that you quit your work to get a good night sleep. But, you can manage your daily schedule in a better way by using the time more efficiently. In office, try to get away from distractions and try to be as productive as possible.
Using Gadgets Before Bed
You would have probably heard this countless times. Not only reading stressful emails and chatting late into the night affects the quality and quantity of sleep, the use of gadgets in the bed before sleeping is also psychological and physiological arousing. A study conducted by the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has found that the displays of the gadgets cause melatonin suppression. The melatonin hormone is produced by the pineal gland at night and under conditions of darkness. It tells your body that it is the time to doze off. However, the exposure to light at night and especially short wavelength light emitted from the display of the gadgets can slow or even cease melatonin production, interrupting sleep. The suppression of melatonin production disturbs body’s natural cycle that regulates the awake and sleep time, which increases the risk of diabetes and obesity, and if repeated over years, such as in case of night workers, it increases risk for more serious diseases, such as breast cancer.
Alcohol Before Bed
People often tend to consume alcohol before sleep as it is widely believed that it helps you get a good sleep. Although, it acts as a sedative and help you doze off quickly, in the long run the consumption of alcohol can diminish the quality of sleep you can get. The studies have found that alcohol interferes with REM sleep. The REM, rapid eye movement sleep happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. It is during this phase of sleep, you dream. It is said to be restorative. The disruption in the REM can lead to daytime drowsiness, poor concentration and poor quality of sleep, which in spite of hours you spend in the bed, will always leave you tired and fatigued. The solution for this problem is very simple. Reduce the frequency and amount of alcohol consumption before sleeping. In fact, I would advise you to stop drinking it completely. The alcohol consumption is linked with liver disease, heart problems and nerve damage.
Saving on Sleep
Often, people tend to save the sleep time in the weekdays by decreasing sleeping time period and cashing it on the weekends by sleeping for the longer durations. In terms of quantity, you might be able to compensate for one hour skipped here and there, but it is not the same thing. A researcher from Weill Cornell Medical College has found that people with a weekday sleep deficit are 72 percent more likely to be obese and are also more likely to be insulin resistant, which means that they are more liable to develop Type 2 diabetes. The lack of sleep on day to day basis also affects your body’s overall functioning and can leave you feeling more fatigued and tired. Also, the varying and irregular sleep patterns can upset the circadian rhythm, which regulates the sleep cycle. The better alternative is to take a 30 minute nap during the day to compensate for the lack of sleep in the night.
Constant Sleep Disruptions
The quantity of sleep is nothing without quality. Even, sleeping for nine hours is less than adequate if you wakes up often in the night. You won’t get proper rest due to such type of sleep. The goal should be to get a deep and restorative sleep that accomplishes the cellular level repair and cures your body of fatigue. As written earlier in the article, the key is to get REM sleep, which you won’t get if you are waking up too frequently in the sleep. The study conducted by the sleep expert Professor Derk-Jan Dijk from the University of Surrey has found that lack of a proper sleep for a week can have severe effect on your genes. The study states that insufficient sleep can have an impact on more than 700 genes including genes associated with the ‘body clock’ cycle, metabolism, and immune and stress responses. And, the impact on these genes can cause obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and impaired vigilance and cognition. To ensure that your sleep doesn’t suffer from disruptions, set your phone to sleep mode. Also, in case your sleep is affected by light or sound that you can’t block out, then buy a decent sleep mask and earplugs.
Not Working Out
We know that it is sometimes very difficult to squeeze in a workout in an already packed schedule. But, doing so, will help you in one more area as well. Along with battling obesity and improving your cardiovascular health, the regular exercise can also serve as a natural remedy for sleep related problems. The mounting evidence from several studies have backed sleep as a good alternative for treating insomnia and sleep related problems. A study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity has revealed that getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week can lead to a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality for participants. Another study published in September 2012 edition of Journal of Physiotherapy claimed that exercise routine can reduce sleep latency and medications in those suffering from sleep related problems. This study has backed the use of sleep as an alternative or complementary approach to existing therapies for sleep problems.
So, you need to squeeze an exercise routine in your daily schedule. In case, you are extremely short on time and don’t have a time for a visit to a local gym or run in the park, you can opt to do a series of bodyweight exercises such as pushups, pull-ups, squats and crunches followed by a short rope skipping session. It won’t take more than 15 minutes.
Constant High Stress
If there is any definite condition that is related to the sleep problems, then it is stress. This is a two way equation. You can say that high stress interferes with the natural sleeping process. And, you can argue vice-versa as lack of sleep does affect your mind’s ability to handle and reduce stress. A study published by American Psychological Association found that around 43 percent of participants in the study had reported that stress has caused them to lie awake at night. It was also found that those who sleep less than eight hours a night have higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night. And, 21 percent participants claimed that stress affected their quality of sleep.
You can remedy this problem by doing meditation before sleeping or in the evening after work. Along with relieving anxiety and stress, the meditation can help in improving the quality of your sleep. The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine stated that doing regular meditation can lead to decrease in insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
Okay, I understand some of you love your coffee. And, who doesn’t love to settle down with a cup of warm coffee and a good book in balmy evenings. But, the studies have found that it can have an adverse effect on your sleep. Even, if you have consumed it hours before sleep, it can still affect your sleep as caffeine stays in your body hours after consumption. It reaches a peak level in your blood within 30 to 60 minutes and your body takes around 3 to 5 hours to eliminate even half of the overall content. Coffee is one of the most powerful stimulants in the world, and it is due to this reason, it keeps you alert throughout the day. The caffeine in bid to keep you awake and alert acts as an adenosine receptor blocker. Adenosine is a compound in your body that promotes sleep. And, caffeine blocks the adenosine receptor to keep you from feeling sleepy. So, do yourself a favor and cut back on your evening coffee. And, if you want an energy boost, you should do some exercise.
The electricity is considered the best invention since some fellas in the Stone Age accidentally discovered fire. The electricity has effectively elongated our day and has enabled us to work or socialize even long after the sunset. However, the artificial light can have a negative effect on your sleep as it messes up body’s perception of how long the night is. Also, the presence of the light suppresses the melatonin secretion. As said earlier, the melatonin controls sleep and wake cycles. So, as a result, the melatonin secretion can seriously hamper the quality of your sleep. It can also increase the sleep latency.
Another way in which electrical light messes up sleep is by stimulating intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells that are sensitive to light. These ganglion cells have a major say in our body’s circadian cycle. When the eyes are exposed to artificial light, it stops stimulating the sleep inducing neurons and activates the arousing neurons that make you feel less sleepy.
Ignoring Pains and Aches
The pain and physical discomfort can reduce the sleep duration and quality of the sleep. The pain or ache is directly related to two concerns – stress and poor health, and these two can have an adverse effect on the quality of the sleep. The pain affects body’s ability to enter REM sleep, which as we have discussed earlier is responsible for body repairs and restoration. In fact, a recent survey published by the Sleep Foundation has revealed that suffering from a chronic pain leads to an average 42 minute sleep debt. In the same survey, only 45 percent of those with acute pain and 37 percent of those with chronic pain reported good or very good quality of sleep. So, never go to bed with any type of pain or soreness and consult a specialist.