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Sleep is essential for a healthy mind and body, and in our fast-paced life, so many people just don’t get enough quality sleep each night.
In this post, let’s look at the importance of sleep for optimum health. Here’s 9 Critical Reasons Why You Sleep Badly, and why it’s so important to take steps to ensure you improve your sleep quality.
Are You Sleeping Enough For Your Health?
Do you know that the average person sleeps 230,000 hours or 1/3 of their life sleeping? This is based on the 8 hours per night that is considered to be the requirement for optimum health.
But not everyone sleeps adequately.
Do you think that you sleep well enough at night? Chances are that if you’re reading this right now, you suspect that you aren’t sleeping as well as you should.
There are simple things you can change tonight that will greatly improve your quality of sleep.
While overall amount of sleep is important, it is equally important that your time asleep be truly restorative.
Why Is Good Sleep So Important?
Restorative sleep is your body’s way of healing itself, especially after brain injuries, and of processing information.
Current research shows that getting a good sleep 7-8 hours per night and making sure it is restorative sleep can help people live longer and have healthier lives.
If you don’t experience good sleep, you are more likely to have health issues.
Also, if you don’t sleep long enough, and in truth, many people don’t, you will not be able to get through all of the stages of sleep which is critical for you brain function.
The 5 Stages Of Sleep
There are considered to be 5 stages to sleep. Each has a different function in the sleep process but all are essential in leading to restorative sleep.
Stage1 – lightest level of sleep
Breathing is regular and you are more easily prone to waking.
Stage 2 – slightly deeper
You will not wake so easily.
Stages 3 & 4 – deeper sleep also known as slow wave sleep (SWS)
You are very likely to sleep through loud noises and it’s not easy to wake you.
As we age, we spend more time in stage 2 than stage 3 & 4, meaning you sleep more lightly most of the time.
Stage 5 – REM sleep
This is the stage associated with dreaming. It is a completely different state from the others. Your breathing will be erratic, heart rate rises, and you don’t move around.
Your body prevents you from moving during REM sleep, rendering you in a kind of paralysed state known as atonia so that you are unable to injure yourself during dreams.
Without this mechanism, it’s possible that you may flail around during a particularly energetic dream.
Some people have reported a being awake but unable to move, sensing a weight on them or presence in the room. This is likely to still be in a dream-state although the person is convinced they are awake.
REM sleep is vitally important for restorative sleep.
Here is a fabulous article explaining sleep stages and well worth a read.
All of the stages are important to help the brain process and heal. Research also suggests that getting too much sleep can have negative effects as well.
Oversleeping more than 10 hours per night regularly may be a sign of issues such as Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, Heart Disease and Thyroid problems. If this is you, it’s a good idea to consult with you GP.
Not only are the number of hours that you sleep important, but also the quality of your sleep.
Even if you’re in bed for the required 7-8 hours, if it is constantly interrupted, you are probably not experiencing restorative sleep.
Signs Of Sleep Deprivation
Do you feel irritable on a regular basis? Are you snappish and impatient? Do you find yourself having little tolerance for your own mistakes and those of others?
It may be lack of sleep that’s the culprit.
Increased Appetite and/or Weight Gain
Did you know that a lack of sleep may increase your appetite and lead to weight gain? Perhaps the body’s need for energy when it’s sleep-deprived is what leads to a craving for sweets, carbohydrates, or just food in general.
Related post you may like: Keto Diet
Increased appetite may also be the result of hormones that kick in when the body is deprived of sleep.
Even without a marked increase in appetite, research has shown the sleep deprivation can result in weight gain. This also may be due to hormonal imbalances caused by too little sleep.
If you find yourself making silly mistakes on a regular basis – dropping things, forgetting dates on the calendar, messing up your schedule. It may be your sleepy brain.
Studies show that those who don’t get enough sleep have a hard time performing normal tasks that are no problem when they are adequately rested.
As with other mental disorders, sleep deprivation may not be a cause of depression, but rather a symptom.
However, some sources point out that depression can result from a lack of sleep. If you are feeling depressed and are having a hard time determining why, you might take a look at your sleep habits.
If you find that you aren’t feeling rested the next day, let’s take a look at some reasons why:
9 Critical Reasons Why You Sleep Badly
1. Not Sleeping In The Dark
The number of people sleeping with the lights on has consistently increased, with their reasons ranging from one thing to another.
However, what often coincides with this exposure to light is disruption of your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
In the dark, the neurotransmitter/hormone melatonin is produced, which promotes deep restful sleep.
Artificial exposure to light breaks down this chemical, so that you are not truly experiencing the restorative effects of deep sleep.
The simple fix to this is to ensure you sleep in a room as dark as possible. You should notice a difference in the way your body feels following a week of good sleep.
2. Hormonal Issues
When you have a hormonal imbalance that causes a lack of sleep, it can make you stressed, which in turn affects your hormones even more.
If you’re someone who’s experiencing insomnia, having your hormones checked could be the solution to restoring your sleep.
There are many different hormones that can get out of balance that can trigger insomnia. One of these is your estrogen.
When estrogen gets too low, it can disrupt your normal sleep cycle.
Obviously if you are in menopause or perimenopause, you will be aware that this is the likely cause.
Low estrogen levels also trigger alertness leading to trouble shutting your thoughts off enough to be able to get some rest, and of course having your estrogen out of whack can cause the dreaded night sweats or hot flashes, which disrupt your sleep.
3. Noises Wake You Often
Let’s say that your room is perfectly dark, but you are still tossing and turning due to the tiniest annoying noise.
OMG…barking dogs, cars, neighbor’s loud music, church bells, fireworks…I can identify with all these. Traveling and living in different cultures, I’ve realized that the world is often a very noisy place!
Let’s just say true silence is really hard to find.
What can be done about that? Obviously sound proofing isn’t usually a viable option, but there is one thing that is superior to that.
Introducing white noise…a controlled, consistent low “hum” that tends to drown out other minor nuisances.
Take for example a fan running in the room.
It is not noisy enough to be annoying but is still soothing with its ever-present whirring.
There are specialized White Noise machines, which can mimic sounds such as rain, or waves gently crashing on the shoreline. This can contribute to a truly serene sleep experience.
I also use little silicone ear buds made originally for swimmers to block the ear canal to prevent water getting in. These are soft and mold to the shape of your ear and don’t fret that they will disappear into your ear, or harm your hearing in some way.
These are brilliant for blocking noise too. I always have them with me when traveling. You can find these in pharmacies and sports shops.
****Just a suggestion, cut off the hard end bit so it makes them softer on the ears for sleeping****
4. Using Electronic Devices
Using your computer, cell phone, or watching TV just before turning in will have an effect on your ability to sleep.
This is due to the blue light emitted from these devices. As with a light room, blue light interrupts the production of melatonin required to tell your body it’s time for sleep.
It’s recommended that turning off these devices at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before turning in, will greatly assist to calm your mind and give it a rest from the blue light.
Try reading a book, doing a puzzle, gentle stretching exercises, or meditation as great ways to relax.
5. Sleeping With A Partner
Men and women have different body temperatures which can lead to you struggling with the bed linen at night.
It’s not uncommon for men to emit quite a lot of body heat at night, leading to women getting hot and throwing off the quilt.
This is particularly relevant when you are dealing with menopausal hot flashes, causing you to become a restless sleeper.
Many people are resorting to sleeping separately. This isn’t ideal in a relationship, but it can be assisted by having twin beds pushed together with differing weights of bed linen.
Also, we all snore but it’s more common in men.
Listening to your partner snoring can be offset by using the silicone earbuds mentioned earlier, or the use of a White Noise machine on your side of the bed (or last resort, sleeping in a different room!) – also increasingly more common.
Note: if your partner snores, it can be a symptom of Sleep Apnea, particularly due to age.
This is caused by the collapse of tissues in the throat, and if left untreated this can lead to serious health issues like high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack or even choking while asleep.
It’s not a bad idea to suggest that your partner seeks a diagnosis from your physician. He/she may suggest that you try a special dental device that keeps your throat open while sleeping.
6. Sleeping With Pets
While we’re on the subject of sleeping with a partner, let’s talk about sleeping with your pet.
For some individuals, sleeping with an animal can be very relaxing and help them get to sleep quicker and feel better. For others, having that extra body in the bed only causes problems and interruptions to your sleep.
Pets tend to fidget and wake more often than humans. They leave your bed full of fur. Cats catnap, meaning they wake frequently and dogs in particular tend to snore and pass gas…not an ideal arrangement.
As much as I loved my dog and cat, I banished them from the bedroom, greatly assisting my restfulness (now for the husband!)…just kidding.
7. Eating Too Much Before Bed
I know it might sound straightforward that eating too close too bedtime is a bad plan, but a staggeringly large number of people still do so religiously, night after night.
This poses a problem for a couple reasons.
Firstly, eating a large meal causes food to rest on your stomach for a longer time, which can cause discomfort and inability to sleep.
Secondly, with food in your stomach, the likelihood of experiencing reflux is much higher when you lay down. Many people experience nocturnal acid reflux, which can be serious if inhaled into the lungs unconsciously.
There is nothing more uncomfortable than having indigestion at night. You just won’t sleep well.
Not to mention the fact that this food is not likely to be used for fuel overnight as you aren’t active. So you may experience regular weight gain or at the very least, find it difficult to lose any.
It’s recommended that your last meal be consumed no later than 6pm going to bed at around 10.30pm. A late protein snack is ok.
8. Consuming Stimulants Too Late In The Day
Most of us drink some sort of stimulant based beverage during the day, whether it’s coffee, tea, wine etc. These are generally accepted to be safe but can be troublesome when taken too late in the day.
While caffeine is common in many of them, it does take about 4 hours to be completed eliminated by the body.
Now…I looove a great coffee, but it plays havoc with my sleeping pattern if I have one too late in the day.
So, if you go to be at 10PM every night, stop consuming these items at 6PM if you must have one last booster.
9. Inferior Or Old Mattress
When you experience sleeplessness, the first thing people seem to turn try is some sort of sleep aid. Often an OTC medication.
While there are good and bad sleep aids, maybe look at the quality of your mattress first. If you’ve had your mattress for more than a few years, chances are it’s less efficient than it used to be.
Springs move with age, sponge sinks and even memory foam loses its memory after a while… contributing to making sleep a nightly battle.
Consider investing in a really good quality mattress. Sleep is so vital that it’s a no-brainer to spend the extra money…especially when you considering that you spend 1/3 of your life in bed!
Sleep is so important for your health, take the time to try to resolve some or all of the above issues, and allow your body and mind to reap the benefits.
I hope you found this post helpful.
As always, I look forward to your comments and appreciate shares on SM.