Getting a good night’s sleep should be the easiest thing in the world. After a long and exhausting day of work, running around and trying to get everything done – you are not only sleepy, but also ready to literally fall into bed by the end of the day. Then, the minute you lie your head down on the pillow – your mind (or heartburn) starts racing and not only can you not sleep – but you become increasingly frustrated and even more exhausted. Statistics indicate that 2 out of every 3 people over the age of 27 have constant or chronic sleep conditions that leave them less than rested. And worse, nearly 94% of all people over the age of 5 (no-that is not a typo) do not get the required amount of sleep for their age per night. This leaves many people with something called sleep debt, but contrary to the name, this is not a debt that can be repaid so easily.
Sleep deprivation is considered getting less than 8 hours of solid sleep for 3 nights out of every week. If this deprivation becomes chronic (5 nights per week) after two weeks the human body is left with sleep debt. The condition of not getting enough sleep has varied causes and symptoms – none of which are desirable. Most of these indicators that you aren’t getting enough sleep are quite simply overlooked as common nuances of a busy life. In the long run however, they can actually lead to a premature death by both causing and aggravating illness and disease. The lack of sleep has people all over the world trying to figure out how to get a good night’s sleep.
There are some things that you can do right now to help. Commonly, people suffer either from premature waking or insomnia. Others with sleep problems simply don’t get enough sleep, which disrupts the physiological rhythm of the human body. Your first priority if you suffer from sleep problems is to try and figure out why. Is it stress that keeps you up? Are you intaking too many stimulants during the day? Do you have a health problem like reflux that wakes you at night? Once you figure out why – you can take proactive measures to make things better. For most people, stress and stimulants are the common denominator.
Life is stressful; there is no doubt about it. Since you stay so busy during the day you don’t allow yourself time to relax or calm down. Then at night when you are physically tired, you lie down but your mind is in overdrive. Many sleep specialists recommend a time of unwinding. If you consider how a baby is prepped for bedtime, you will understand this concept. You have to develop a good sleep routine at every age. This also means avoiding certain things beyond 2pm such as coffee, alcohol, exercises or stimulants – all of which amp up your adrenaline and can cause sleeplessness. You should take care to eat earlier than normal so that if your sleep troubles are caused by digestive issues, your body will have the wake time it needs to adjust. Additionally, it is best to go to bed having not eaten within three hours of your bedtime. Speaking of bedtimes, this is a crucial element in proper sleep. Just like children need a bedtime, so do adults. If you can stick to an actual bedtime, you will be able to train your body to go to sleep. The same is true for waking. If you wake up at 7am on the weekdays, you should try to do this on the weekends as well.
Find a method to de-stress yourself. Whether it is a hot and bubbly bath, a casual evening walk, or a short stint of meditation, you should do something every night to help your body and mind relax. For many music can help. No matter how much you have to do during the day – take at least 15 – 30 minutes before going to bed to try and get your worries out. If stress is keeping you awake, you may find that keeping a worry journal can help as well. This way you can write down all of your angst systematically. Try to keep your self as organized as possible during the day and remain aware of what you are worrying about. Stressing about the electric bill at 3 in the morning is ineffective. Put things in perspective and try to work on problems one at a time. Partaking in heavy exercise or things like yoga during the day can also help eliminate stress.
Avoid all stimulants for a few weeks. This means that your coffee and latté should be replaced with non-caffeinated choices. Beware of foods like chocolate as well that may keep you awake. If you take any medications (herbal or prescription), make sure that they aren’t causing your lack of sleep. You may have to change the time of day that you take them. Additionally, avoid alcohol which makes it difficult to reach deep sleep which is the most restful. One of the reasons that many people wake up tired, even if they think they have slept for several hours is because they haven’t been able to reach the hour or two of deep sleep that are most restorative. This is often the case for parents who have to wake up many times during the night to care for an infant or baby.
If you have digestive problems then seek treatment and follow the rules. Alternatively, if you wake up during the night for unknown reasons – find a sleep specialist who can check to see if you have something serious like apnea. Often these conditions can be corrected easily. When you are learning how to get good nights sleep you have to be both proactive and investigative and you should not rule out any condition. For women, sleeplessness, insomnia and other sleep disorders can be a result of hormonal changes. Often, these can be eased with evening primrose oil or other herbal supplements that will help you through the transition.
Your biggest consideration in how to get good nights sleep is to consider your lifestyle. Are you trying to do too much? Are you overwhelmed? Are you flying through life by the seat of your pants? Are you staying up too late? The body has a meridian system of balance that can easily become out of whack by living too rapidly. Sometimes just slowing down and finding simple pleasures like gratitude and your inner passion can be just the thing to help you sleep. Asking for help and putting yourself and your health first are important.
While it may not seem serious to feel or be tired all the time, the reality paints a much larger picture. A University study concluded that humans who lacked proper sleep were just as dangerous behind the wheel of a car as drunk driver. Response times are slowed and coordination and sensical thinking diminishes rapidly. The longer your lack of sleep goes on the worse it gets. Quite frighteningly, sleep deprivation can also lead to immunological diseases as well as illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and other common ailments. When you don’t sleep well your body is unable to fight simple infections and bacteria and is not able to take advantage of the innate functions of repair that are funded by proper sleep. While this may make you feel even more pressured to learn how to get a good night’s sleep – the good news is that if you find the root cause of your sleep problems and take simple steps to correct it, you can return to a good nights sleep in just a matter of weeks.