can't sleep

Getting enough sleep is an essential part of our daily life. It is important for managing stress and keeping you healthy.  In fact, the amount a person gets can make a huge impact on a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, many people do not get enough each night. In these times of heightened stress and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, even more people are struggling with getting proper ZZZZs. If you can’t sleep, here are some tips to try. 

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Like many things, sleep is not one-size-fits-all. The amount of a person needs depends on their age. According to public health educators, adults ages eighteen and older need seven to nine hours per night.  Adolescents between the ages of twelve and eighteen need between eight and twelve hours per night. Children younger than twelve need anywhere between twelve and seventeen hours per day. 

How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect Me?

For an adult, not getting at least seven hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period on a regular basis can lead to physical injuries, chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and mental health issues, especially depression. Oftentimes, a person can have uncontrolled conditions that are directly related to their lack of sleep.  Additionally, concentration and the ability to focus on a task becomes much harder. Driving while sleep-deprived can also lead to safety issues, such as automobile accidents. Quality of life can be improved by simply increasing the amount of shut-eye a person gets each night.

Tips:

Sometimes, getting enough sleep is not a choice. Individuals who suffer from a lack of sleep usually state that they have others issues, like anxiety or sleep apnea. When they do get some ZZZZs, it’s usually only for a few hours and it’s not sufficient. More severe cases of sleep-deprivation will require professional help such as therapy or sleep studies. But many cases can be managed by establishing good practices and habits.

  • Be active during the day. Go for a walk or do some form of exercise.
  • Get some sunlight during the day. A lack of vitamin D can lead to sleep difficulties.
  • Do not eat large meals before bed.
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol before bed.
  • Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold.
  • Make sure the room is quiet and dark.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night (or day, depending on your work schedule).
  • Do not use electronic devices before bed: turn off cellphones, tablets, and television.
  • Meditate or do some deep breathing to relax before bedtime.
  • Create a bedtime routine and follow it.
  • Take a melatonin pill (discuss with your doctor if you have medical concerns).
  • Do not nap during the day.

A lack of good rest over a long period of time can be detrimental to a person’s overall health. If you are having difficulties, start with the above  tips. If it doesn’t improve after a month’s time, reach out to a medical or mental health professional. For additional information on healthy sleep habits, visit sleepfoundation.org.  

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