Sure there are those who brag about surviving on 4 hours of sleep. But for most of us, that’s simply not enough. In fact, anything less than 7 hours of shut eye per night can actually have serious consequences to your health.
For optimal health, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). For those who suffer from sleep deprivation, you’re well aware that it doesn’t feel so great. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation impairs memory, mood and puts you at risk for depression. But you’re not alone in your restless nights. About 30% of American adults experience some sort of insomnia. Here are some facts worth knowing and tips to help you on the path to feeling rested again.
Why you should pay attention to sleep deprivation:
- In a recent study, 35 percent of Americans reported their shut-eye quality as “poor” or “only fair.” Those who reported "poor" also reported poor health according to NSF.
- People who suffer from insomnia are 17 times more likely to suffer from anxiety problems than those who don't according to a study published in the journal Sleep.
- In a recent study by Harvard and reported in Forbes, insomnia causes the average worker to lose 11.3 days' worth of productivity each year. That's the equivalent of $2,280. Forbes estimates that insomnia is responsible for a loss of productivity worth more than $63 billion.
- Sleep also affects safety at work. In a recent article, Christopher Davis of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University-Spokane said “…real-world levels of sleep loss decrease work performance and raise the risk of accidents.”
- Insomnia also affects our health. “People who habitually get too little sleep have higher risks of chronic ills such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” said Davis. Less than 5 to 6 hours of shut eye a night has been shown to make you twice as likely to develop diabetes.
- Studies also show that insomnia slows metabolism and puts you at greater risk for weight gain.
- Driver fatigue causes approximately 1 million car crashes or 20 percent of all car crashes. Driving when you're tired has the same effect as driving under the influence of alcohol.
What you can do about insomnia:
- Exercise: Approximately 20 minutes a day or 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week improves sleep quality by 65%.
- Take a nap: A nap of 20–30 minutes is all you need to improve your mood, alertness and performance. A nap can't completely undo sleep deprivation, studies have shown them to be more effective than a cup of coffee.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Stop using electronics at least 30 minutes before bed time. Keep the lights low. Try relaxing activities such as reading, listening to mellow music or gentle yoga.
- Consider herbal remedies: Ingredients melatonin and chamomile can help you relax and fall asleep without leaving you feeling drowsy the next day. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to control your sleep and wake cycles. Your body typically controls how much melatonin your body makes, but melatonin levels drop slowly with age. Light can also affect how much melatonin your body is able to produce. Non-essential amino acids Taurine and L-Theanine have also been shown to reduce anxiety while promoting relaxation and sleep.
- Avoid the side effects: Herbal remedies are not addictive. Unlike pharmaceutical medications, herbal remedies do not cause withdrawal symptoms or rebound insomnia if you don't use them every night.
[Herbal remedies and dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.]