The Importance of Quality Sleep: Risks of Sleep Deprivation & Solutions

Sleep deprivation is no joke. Seriously. The fact is that 60 percent of Americans do not get enough restful sleep. The dangers of sleep deprivation pose a genuine threat to the quality of one’s health. The good news is that by understanding the risks and learning how to get a great night’s sleep, you can reduce and prevent those health risks and move toward a better quality of life.

Sleep Quantity and Quality Are Essential For Your Health

Numerous studies have clearly shown the harmful risks of insufficient sleep. And it’s not just the quantity of sleep but the quality that matters. Eight hours of fitful, restless, and disturbed sleep does not have the same healing and recharging powers as six hours of deep, restful, uninterrupted sleep.

The Various Health Risks Associated With Sleep Deprivation

More than two dozen health risks are associated with a lack of sound sleep. And it only takes about a week of disrupted sleep to negatively affect one’s genetic activity. Here is a list of some of the consequences of lack of sleep:

  • Weakened immune response.
  • Reduced stress control.
  • Poor inflammation response.
  • Increased levels of anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Increased depression and poor mood regulation.
  • Imbalanced hormonal levels lead to unhealthy food cravings.
  • Increased risk of injury and falls.
  • Impaired overall cognition.
  • Increased risk of hypertension.
  • Elevated risk of heart disease.
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Increased risk of both breast and prostate cancer.
  • Increased risk of stroke.

The Sleepless Statistics

If you think you are immune to the negative health issues related to sleep, think again. Statistics on sleep disorders can keep you up all night worrying.

  • Sixty percent of Americans have a chronic sleep disorder, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement, and narcolepsy.
  • Thirty percent of American adults sleep less than six hours per night.
  • Forty percent of Americans accidentally fall asleep during the day at least once a month. Many more need stimulants like coffee, candy bars, and carbohydrate-heavy snacks to boost their energy at midday.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

It is common for people to think that we all need eight hours of sleep per night. Some people feel they do better with more sleep, while others believe they are just fine with six hours per night. However, there is no exact needed sleep time for all people. Research has, however, provided some excellent guidelines based on your age.

  • Adults (18 years +) require seven to nine hours of restful sleep.
  • Kids between the ages of 10 and 17 require 8.5 to nine hours of restful sleep.
  • Kids between the ages of 5 and 10 require 10 to 11 hours of restful sleep

How To Reduce Preventable Sleep Loss

Many things can cause chronic sleep deprivation. In addition to the officially named sleep disorders mentioned above, I would like to add one more: activities in daily living (ADL). ADLs are habits we maintain that contribute to sleep deprivation. That is to say, sleep loss due to controllable evening activity choices. Therefore, sleep loss related to ALD is preventable.

Nighttime activities that should be avoided to prevent insomnia or unrestful sleep include:

  • Texting before bed and while in bed. This habit leads to later sleep time and a more active mind when a quieter one is needed.
  • Reading before bed and while in bed, especially via iPads and laptops. Reading activates the mind, delaying sleep, and reading from backlit screens is reported to alter sleep quality.
  • Keeping the cell phone on at night and close at hand. The constant text and message notification dings cause sleep disturbances and the perceived need to check for messages.
  • Eating a big meal or sweet snacks before bed is reported to cause sleep, disturbed sleep, and even nightmares.
  • Drinking alcohol before bedtime reduces the ability to fall asleep and the quality of sleep. Consuming even water before bedtime can cause one to wake up to urinate, thus disturbing sleep.

Five Ways To Get A Great Night’s Sleep

Objective statistics show that subjective feelings indicate that getting a proper night’s sleep is essential to health and overall quality of life. Now that you know the risks of not getting enough sleep and some easily changeable activities that contribute to sleep deprivation, let’s review a few ways to help you get the best sleep ever.

  1. Create and stick to a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on the weekends. Staying within an hour of this schedule will set your circadian rhythm, the body’s clock, to begin its wind down in preparation for a good night’s sleep. Eventually, your body will naturally fall asleep without issue and wake up without an alarm since the rhythm will be set and part of one’s homeostasis.
  2. Keep the sleeping room cooler at night, as the body rests better in cooler temperatures. Not cold, just cooler than your daytime temperature. The best temperature seems to be 65 to 68 degrees.
  3. Make the room as dark and as quiet as possible. Our bodies are set to sleep at night and awake during the day, so making the room dark and keeping it quiet will aid in falling asleep and staying asleep.
  4. Compose a comfortable bed. More than 70 percent of people report sleeping better in comfortable bedding and on a comfortable mattress. And 90 percent say a comfortable pillow improves sleep. Comfort is significant when it comes to relaxing at night and falling off into la-la land, not to mention reducing body pain.
  5. Find a comfortable sleeping posture. This is important for those who experience hip, shoulder, neck, or other pain while sleeping and also to prevent snoring, apnea, and other issues that disturb sleep. Sleeping on your side, with your knees bent and a pillow between them, is considered the best of all positions. Think of the fetal position, with some pillows for extra cushioning.

If you still have problems falling asleep by following the above recommendations, then you may need to take some natural sleep aids. One of the most popular supplements is melatonin.

Melatonin is an insomniac’s dream. This natural wonder is excellent for helping you get to sleep, and unlike most prescription medications and some over-the-counter sleep aids, it’s non-habit-forming.

Your body naturally produces melatonin, but like many things, it produces less of this hormone as you age. Scientists have begun to realize the significant effect declining levels of this hormone have on our aging process. Preclinical studies have shown that melatonin increases the lifespan of animals by 20 percent, and that’s a big deal. But even more significant is that it prolonged their youthful characteristics.

If you are having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep,  get a FREE Consultation with one of our doctors (D.C) here

DN Better Rest contains Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, Lemon Balm, GABA, and Melatonin, all of which help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

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