Sleep deprivation is one of the most common issues that people complain about, day in, day out. In fact, the American Sleep Association says that ’50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder.’ That’s a huge number considering the population of the entire United States is around 330 million.
Regrettably, it only takes a single night of horrible sleep to become sleep deprived. And unfortunately, one in at least five Americans claim that they are sleep deprived every single day. But the way sleep deprivation is described by one person could be totally different from the next. Rizal Hajal, MD, a Sleep specialist from the Sioux Falls Sleep Center explains, “Most people need to sleep between seven and nine hours a night, but some require less and some require more.”
Basically, this means that while one person will say they feel sleep deprived after just seven hours of sleep, another might not. What many don’t realize is that while getting a particular number of hours is important, the quality of sleep plays a rather large role as well.
Sleep specialist, Micheal Breus, Ph.D., who also authored the book The Power of When shares, “You can sleep for eight hours but still be sleep deprived if you don’t fall into restorative REM sleep because of a disorder like sleep apnea.”
Signs of Sleep Deprivation
Here are a few ways to know if you want to know whether you are sleep deprived. One notable red flag is feeling like you need to “catch up” on sleep on the weekend. Dr. Hajal says, “You should naturally wake up after the same amount of sleep every day even on Saturdays, without an alarm clock. If you don’t, you’re sleep deprived.”
Another big red flag is falling asleep in less than five minutes when you go to bed. According to Breus, “A lot of people think it’s a good thing to fall asleep quickly, but it means you aren’t getting enough sleep.”
A third red flag that you are not getting enough sleep is feeling groggy or sleepy throughout the day. As explained by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, if you accidentally nod off in situations you find boring or monotonous – like lectures or meetings – this could be another warning sign.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
While most people think that they just need to crank up their caffeine intake, the effects of a lack of sleep can be far worse than that. Dr. Hajal points out, “The effects of sleep deprivation can be subtle – your productivity goes down, you become short with people, you can’t remember things. And if it happens for months on end, it can lead to a lack of sexual drive and a rise in anxiety and depression.”
Unfortunately, lacking zzz’s can also negatively impact your physical health as well. This is because sleep deprivation is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even causes an increased risk of having a stroke.
How to Get Over Sleep Deprivation
As simple as it may sound, the only way to get over sleep deprivation is to get enough quality sleep as often as possible. But having a really restful night of sleep requires what could be hindering you from getting quality sleep in the first place.
Here are a few tips to help you finally get that perfect night of rest:
Check Your Surroundings
First, look around your bedroom. It should be dark, quiet and cool if you want to truly rest well.
Another tip to a better night’s sleep is to be active, just not too close to bedtime. Tons of research shows that physical exercise has an incredibly positive impact on one’s sleep. But if you work out too close to your actual sleeping time, it could have the opposite effect, keeping you up and making it even harder to get some good shuteye. “Give yourself about four hours between working out and turning off the light. Working out heats up your body, and you need to be cool to sleep,” Breus adds.
Say No to Alcohol
Another tip is to say no to the nightcap. Although a number of people might think that alcohol will help them sleep better, when you indulge too much, it will have a negative effect on your sleep. If you do decide to have a drink or glass of wine before bed time, make sure you allow your body to metabolize the alcohol first, which normally takes an hour per every serving.
Drink Caffeine In the Morning
Another tip to help you get a better night’s sleep is to only drink caffeine in the morning. It actually takes an entire twenty-four hours for caffeine to work its way out of your system. So if you want to get a great night’s sleep, Breus advises to refrain from caffeine from 2 pm or so onwards.
Keep A Sleeping and Waking Up Schedule
The last tip is to try to keep your bedtime and waking up time the same every day. Breus iterates, “If you get up at 6:30 am during the week, get up at that time on the weekends.” Aside from your body thriving on s proper schedule, your circadian rhythm will keep in line, allowing your body to have a natural time frame for wakefulness and sleeping time.
If you happen to suffer from sleep deprivation, it’s not that difficult to rectify the situation. Just prioritize your sleep, follow these tips, and try to keep a proper sleep schedule. If you can do all these, you’ll be feeling better, and more importantly, well rested, before you know it!