Sleep: no human can live without it. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get around seven to nine hours of sleep per night. For some, this may not be possible. With the stress of everyday life, and increasing reliance on stimulants like caffeine, the ability to fall asleep and get the recommended hours has become difficult. While there are short-term effects that are noticeable, long-term sleep deprivation and lack of sleep can have a profound impact on long-term health. Therefore, what are some of these consequences, and what can you do to get more sleep at night?
Reasons for Lack of Sleep
There is no doubt that today’s everyday life is much more fast-paced than in the past. People scramble at their jobs, worry about payments, and more. It is no wonder that stress has become almost an everyday concept for many people. Stress is one of the main reasons people get a lack of sleep. Aside from stress, sleep side effects of sleep deprivation could also stem from an underlying sleep disorder.
No matter the cause of sleep disorders, a lack of sleep can negatively affect your body, not only hurting you in the present but also in the long term.
How Much Sleep do You Need?
A recent report from the National Sleep Foundation has the answer. They’ve conducted two years of research and tailored their recommendations to different age groups. Here’s the breakdown with some flexibility to accommodate individual sleep patterns and preferences:
- Adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours
- Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours
- Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours
- Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours
- School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours
- Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
- Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
- Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours
- Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours
Additionally, doctors have discovered that genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors play a role in your sleep duration and determining the ideal amount of sleep for your overall health and daily performance.
Short-term Effects for Lack of Sleep
After one or even a few restless nights unable to sleep, you may get a feeling of irritability, grogginess, and fatigue. Most people can relate to these sentiments, as an uncomfortable night with minimal sleep can leave you feeling drowsy. These short-term consequences of poor-quality sleep can negatively affect your mood and your work performance for the day.
These consequences of sleep deprived can also take effect on things outside of your control. Drowsiness can lead to more car accidents and a loss of memory. Lack of sleep can also lead to relationship stress and a more negative outlook on life.
Long-term Effects for Lack of Sleep
A lot of people may already understand the short-term effects of a lack of sleep. However, you may not know about long-term mental health disorders and problems.
If you consistently do not get enough sleep, you could experience some issues like weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and a shorter life expectancy.
When you sleep, your body’s immune system builds special substances that help combat bacteria and viruses. If you do not get adequate sleep regularly, then you may see lower productivity in your immune system.
Sleep deprivation can cause noticeable changes in your body weight- either weight gain or weight loss. People typically see weight gain because they find themselves too tired to exercise. Sleep also helps produce substances, like insulin, that assist in successful digestion. A lack of insulin can also lead to weight gain.
How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
No matter if you have a sleep disorder or find yourself too distracted to get healthy sleep anyway, every human needs adequate sleep every night. Here are some ways to help you get back to a healthy sleeping pattern. If you find that nothing is working for you, consider seeing a sleep specialist.
One way to help you sleep is to get into a routine. Create a bedtime routine that you follow each night so that you can get into a groove normal sleep schedule. You should participate in soothing activities that can ease your mind- reading and having a bath are great options.
Exercise is a crucial element in having a healthy lifestyle. It is no wonder that exercise can also help you sleep regularly at night. Not only does physical activity release happy hormones that boost your mood and relieve stress, but it is also a great way to make you feel tired at the end of the day.
Managing stress is also part of mental health problems in falling asleep at night. Many people who have sleeping issues attribute the problem to stress. To lower stress, you can meditate, exercise, or go to professional therapy.
Limit Electronic Devices. Smartphones and tablets can keep your mind active, hindering the relaxation necessary for a peaceful night’s sleep. Dr. Drerup advises putting away these electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to ensure a calmer mental state conducive to quality sleep.
Establish a Consistent Wake Time. Try to wake up at the same time every day, including weekends and days off. Maintaining this routine helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Dr. Drerup also recommends engaging in calming activities like a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime. By incorporating these rituals into your nightly routine, you can condition your mind to associate them with sleep, facilitating a smoother transition into slumber.
Other ways to help you get a good night’s sleep regularly are to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, try not to use electronic devices before falling asleep, and limit your caffeine intake.
With a busy lifestyle, there can be many reasons not to sleep. However, sleep is an essential part of being healthy and being human. So, take care of yourself and seek out professional help if needed.
Ready to prioritize your mental well-being? Explore the benefits of online counseling with trusted platforms like Betterhelp and Faithful Counseling. Take the first step towards a happier, healthier you today. Start your counseling journey now!
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